Home Pruning Pruning in December: What to Prune and Avoid for Optimal Plant Health

Pruning in December: What to Prune and Avoid for Optimal Plant Health

by Gregory
2 minutes read

Pruning in December

What to Prune Now

In December, when plants are dormant, it’s a good time to prune most types of plants. If you have a lot to do, start now. Otherwise, take your time. Waiting a few weeks protects plants from frost and lets you enjoy colorful stems.

  • Hazel: Cut out old stems near the base (coppicing)
  • Foxglove tree: Give it a hard cut to encourage huge leaves next year
  • Parthenocissus: This climber can get out of control. Prune it now and use the vines in Christmas wreaths.
  • Willow: Cut back young stems to encourage more growth next season

Avoid Pruning These

  • Box: Wait until spring. It’s susceptible to frost and disease.
  • Cherries, plums, peaches, and apricots: They’re more likely to get silver leaf if pruned in winter.
  • Buddleia globosa: Prune after flowering.
  • Lemon verbena: Wait until spring. Pruning now removes protective growth and increases the risk of frost damage.

Step-by-Step Grapevine Pruning

  1. Assess the plant: Decide what to prune and which stems to leave long for training.
  2. Shorten stems: Cut stems with fruiting spurs at their base, keeping two buds each.
  3. Finish up: Aim for a tidy, controlled vine with no whippy growth.

Other Plants to Prune Like Grapevines

  • Campsis: Keep it in check to encourage flowers.
  • Wisteria: Prune in January or February, back to two or three buds.
  • Ampelopsis: Prune to prevent it from getting too big.


  • Use pruned stems to create hardwood cuttings.
  • Commercial growers often use grafting instead of cuttings to avoid disease problems. But cuttings are fun to try if you want to make more plants at home.

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