In general, it’s a good idea to avoid heavy pruning of most plants in October. Here are some plants you will want to only lightly prune, or avoid pruning at all.

Plants to avoid pruning in October

Spring-blooming shrubs

If you prune spring-flowering shrubs in October, you risk removing flower buds for the next year’s blooms. Examples of these shrubs include lilacs (Syringa), forsythia, and azaleas.


Avoid heavy pruning of trees in October, especially deciduous trees. Late pruning can make them vulnerable to winter damage, and they may not have sufficient time to heal before winter.


If you live in a region with cold winters, it’s generally best to avoid heavy pruning of roses in October. Light deadheading and removal of any diseased or damaged canes may be done, but major pruning should wait until late winter or early spring.

Evergreen shrubs

Be cautious when pruning evergreen shrubs like boxwood and yews in October. Light shaping and maintenance pruning may be acceptable but avoid hard pruning.

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Most perennials can be pruned back in the fall after they have finished blooming and the foliage begins to die back. However, don’t prune them too late into October, as they need some time to prepare for winter.

Ornamental grasses

Leave ornamental grasses unpruned until late winter or early spring. They provide winter interest and protection for the crown of the plant.

It’s important to consider your local climate and the specific needs of your plants. If you’re unsure about whether to prune a particular plant in October, consult with a local horticulturist or arborist for advice, as they can provide guidance specific to your region and the condition of your plants.

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