Pruning plants in your garden is essential to their health and helps keep their shape. Removing dead branches allows plants to continue to grow and thrive. Pruning can direct the growth of plants and also increase the quality or yield of flowers or fruit.  However, if not done correctly, improper pruning can lead to disease or injury of the plants.  Below is a general guideline for common San Diego plants.  Please contact us if you have any specific questions.


Pruning is an important and necessary step in growing roses. Pruning keeps the plant healthy. It promotes new growth, removes dead, broken or diseased branches (called “canes”) and trains roses to a desired shape. Pruning encourages flowering, either more blooms or larger blooms, and is essential to keep modern rose varieties blooming repeatedly all summer long. Roses generally bloom in summer but should be pruned late winter/early spring just as the buds appear. First prune out any dead or diseased canes. Next, remove any canes that cross by cutting off at the center of the plant. A vase shape is the ideal for most rose bushes and allows light to get to the bud union. Deadheading is also beneficial for rose plants. Deadheading is the cutting off of faded old flowers. To deadhead, remove the flower by making a diagonal cut just above the next five or seven-leaf branch down on the stem. This should be above a strong bud that will produce a healthy cane.

Citrus Trees

Citrus trees should be pruned in mid-to late spring just before the trees begin to bud.  Remove dead or damaged branches, branches growing inwards and very low branches to improve air circulation.   Always remove any shoots growing from the base of the tree as soon as possible, as they steal energy from the tree and if left too long, leave large wounds for disease to enter when they are cut.  Aim to have mature trees no more than 10-15 feet high. Trees larger than that can create problems with harvesting and pest control. Larger trees are not more productive than smaller, well-managed trees.


The best looking hedges are the ones that are regularly pruned from the time they are planted. The unsightly gaps in the base of many hedges result from years of improper pruning or no pruning at all. It is better to prune a hedge every month, or even more frequently, than to do it only once or twice a year. This frequent shearing or clipping results in a denser growth habit and a better appearance.


Vines can be a beautiful part of any landscape. Whether they follow a trellis or grow along a fence, they need to be trained and pruned to grow where you want them to grow. Most vines require little pruning for the first year or two as they become established. But most perennials will eventually require trimming to help them keep their shape and size under control.  Generally late winter/ early spring is the best time.  Other vigorous growers (ivy, creeping fig, jasmine) can be pruned more frequently if needed.

Shade / Ornamental Trees

Pruning of most deciduous trees is best performed during the dormant season (winter).  Pruning should be limited to removal of no more than a third of the total bud and leaf bearing branches. Benefits of proper pruning include reducing risk of branch and stem breakage, improved health and appearance, enhanced view, and increased flowering. When improperly performed, pruning can harm the tree’s health, stability, and appearance.