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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - October 27, 2010

From: Rogers City, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pruning
Title: Need pruning advice in northern Michigan
Answered by: Marilyn Kircus

QUESTION:

Is it OK to prune my evergreen bushes and holly in October in northern Michigan?

ANSWER:

Our range of expertise is in plants native to North America and to the area in which the plants are being grown.  Most of them don't need much pruning unless you are pruning them up into a tree or removing damaged limbs.  For non-native evergreens, Michigan State University has an excellent discussion here. And you should also be able to use this information for your native evergreens since it is talking about the various sub-groups of evergreens.

Once you identify your evergreen type(s), just follow the instructions.

The only Michigan native holly I can find is Ilex verticillata (Common winterberry); however, it is the only holly that is NOT evergreen, although it has wonderful red berries for the birds and Winter color. You definitely would not want to prune off the developing berries.  Hollies rarely need any pruning,  just prune off dead branches or lightly prune a branch that is not growing correctly. Here is another pruning article from Michigan that gives good advice and shows how to thin out shrubs that need thinning.

 

From the Image Gallery


Common winterberry
Ilex verticillata

Common winterberry
Ilex verticillata

Common winterberry
Ilex verticillata

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