4 plants that need to be pruned in November before it gets too cold - and time's running out

Prune your plants before it’s too late

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Now that winter is in full force is not an excuse to ignore your plants. A handful of them will need to be pruned in November to help them grow happy and healthy next year. However, with low temperatures forecast and December fast approaching you'll need to get cracking before it's too late. 

If you’ve already brought your tender plants inside for winter, pruning some of the plants left in your garden should be next on your list according to garden experts. These are the plants that can withstand the colder temperatures but still need to be pruned to ward off diseases and to keep them in the best shape possible for their next growing season. 

If you're wondering where to start don't pick up those pruning sheers until you've read our tips from garden experts.

4 plants to prune in November

‘In November and over winter, many plants are dormant, which is a great time to prune them as it has less of a negative effect on their health,’ explains Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench. And these are the plants you should prune in November. 

Headshot of gardening expert Steve Chilton
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field and has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. Steve is a keen educator and loves to share this knowledge with others. He strives to simplify complex garden practices and encourage eco-friendly gardening.


Potted acer tree

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Acers - or Japanese maples - are stunning trees that can add a bright pop of colour to your garden. But if you want to keep your acers in fighting form every single year, knowing when to prune acers is key. 

Steve explains, ‘Here in the UK, you should prune acers during their dormant period, which is generally sometime between November and January. You can also prune them from August to October, but pruning outside of these times can lead to excessive bleeding of their sap, which can weaken the tree and have a distinct negative impact on its health.’

However, you need to choose your pruning days wisely when it comes to acers. After pruning, acers temporarily lose some of their winter resilience, which means you shouldn’t prune an acer when it’s too cold. Steve adds, ‘It's also important not to prune them when temperatures are below 0°C.’

Fruit trees

Apple tree in garden

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If you’re lucky enough to have fruit trees in your garden, it’s important to get out into the garden in November. That’s because November is the perfect time to prune your fruit trees, and pruning during their dormancy period is the best way to ensure a fruitful harvest year after year. 

No matter whether you’re pruning a pear tree or pruning an apple tree, pruning a fruit tree in November will protect the tree from unwanted diseases and encourage new growth. However, there needs to be some method to your pruning efforts. 

Harry Bodell, gardening expert at PriceYourJob.co.uk says. ‘In winter, the tree’s energy is diverted into its root system and away from the branches, making it the perfect time to tidy up the tree and remove any dead, diseased or crossed branches.’

Experts also advise pruning just 10% of the canopy, so you’re leaving room for new wood but not pruning too much. 

Fruit bushes

Blueberry bush

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November is the best month to give the fruit-producing plants in your garden some extra attention, which is why it’s a good idea to add pruning your fruit bushes to your list of jobs to do in the garden in November, too. 

From blueberry bushes to gooseberry bushes and blackcurrants, these soft fruit bushes require pruning every year - especially if they’re older than 2 years old. You should aim to cut back any crossing branches, cut off any diseased branches, and prune ⅓ of the old wood to encourage new growth and new fruit next spring. 

Although they don’t need a very hard prune, if you get in the habit of pruning a little of your fruit bushes every year, you’ll definitely reap the rewards. 

Deciduous shrubs

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Knowing when to cut back shrubs isn’t as simple as it sounds. With so many different types of shrubs out there, you need to make sure that you’re cutting the shrubs in your garden at the right time.

But if you have deciduous shrubs, November is the perfect time to prune them, as the lack of leaves means that you can see what you’re doing. Steve says, ‘Trim any dead or diseased branches from deciduous trees and shrubs during their dormant season in November. It's also a good time to prune any overgrown or crossing branches in order to improve the shape and structure of the plant.'

However, you need to be careful when pruning deciduous shrubs, as not all of them are suitable for pruning during these colder temperatures. For example, tender deciduous shrubs such as plum shrubs and ornamental cherries are more susceptible to diseases when pruned during the winter. So, check what you have before you get the pruning shears out. 


What can be pruned in November?

Although you should prune many of your garden plants after flowering in the autumn months, there are still some plants that need to be pruned in November. These include acers, fruit trees, fruit bushes, and deciduous shrubs.

By pruning these in November, you can help protect them over the winter months and give them the best start for the upcoming growing season. However, it’s important to take note of the temperature, as you should always aim to have completed this task before temperatures drop below freezing. 

Is November too late to trim hedges?

No, it’s not too late if you have deciduous hedges. November is the perfect time to prune deciduous shrubs and hedging, but it’s important to note that there are different types of hedges. 

You should only prune deciduous plants in November, so make sure you follow the correct pruning instructions for the hedges that you have. 

As November is almost over, you need to act fast if you want to prune these plants before the harsh winter frost rolls in. 

Lauren Bradbury

Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.