Q: Which plants should I prune in the summer?

A: Springtime garden blooms gave us a great show this year. If gently pruned now, many of these plants will continue to bloom through the summer.

Trimming plants that bloomed in the spring encourages new growth and blooms, and most are tolerant of summer pruning. Be sure to prune azaleas right away, as they are about to start producing buds for next spring. 

Most shrubs thrive after pruning and will produce more foliage and flowers. Buddleja, a stunning butterfly bush with sweet-scented clusters, and roses will unfurl new growth and bloom about a month after removing the spent flowers. 

Many flowers in the daisy family, such as purple coneflower and brown-eyed Susan (Echinacea and Rudbeckia species), will continue to bloom after cutting back the long stems and seed heads. In the fall, leave some of the seed heads for foraging migrant birds. Trim herbaceous salvia when the current bloom spikes finish. Be sure to also trim fall bloomers back by a third in June and July, so they don’t flop over during the hot summer months.

To prolong basil growth and harvest and keep it from going to seed, remove the flower spikes. Bees love basil flowers, so plant extra basil or allow the basil to flower late in the season. The bees will thank you, and you will be able to collect the seed for planting later.

Day lilies only bloom for a day, so continue to pinch off the spent blooms. Cannas will take a break from blooming, so this is an ideal time to cut back stems. Native Turks cap also tolerates gentle pruning and will continue to bloom all summer. 

With a small amount of care, many plants will continue to look fabulous throughout our hot summers.

Suzzanne Chapman
Author: Suzzanne ChapmanEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Suzzanne Chapman is the botanical collections curator at Mercer Botanic Gardens and promotes organic gardening, growing native plants, and protecting the environment. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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