How to Gather Cut Branches in Winter

Floral arrangements brighten up our homes any time of the year, but especially in the winter. However, it can be nerve wracking to go out and collect branches from our own gardens. Plants just don’t seem as forgiving in the harshness of winter. 

Don’t worry, we’ve got harvesting tips to share!

When you’re out gathering cuttings you’ll want to bring an empty bucket for bulky cuts that don’t need water, a bucket with water for branches that do benefit from water, pruners, and gloves to prevent sap from getting on your hands if you’re harvesting from evergreens.

Dried Hydrangea Flowers

  • Wait until your plant is dormant (after you’ve had a few frosts).
  • Cut just above a set of buds. This will help the plant grow easily in the springtime.
  • No need to place in water.


  • For pyramidal plants, never cut the top.
  • Only cut branches that are thinner than a pencil, it helps the plant heal faster.
  • Harvest evenly around a plant to avoid creating a hole in the dense foliage.
  • Place in water. Or, if you plan to have them out of water, spray them with a wilt stopping spray or mist with water every few days.

Red-Twig Dogwood

  • These plants love a rejuvenation prune! Every 3 to 5 years, remove 1/3 of the thickest (oldest) stems to encourage bright juvenile growth or just harvest stems yearly.
  • Snip any spindly branches from the main stem to give the branch a smoother look.
  • No need to place in water, they will keep their color without it.


  • Try to only cut stems that are thinner than a pencil.
  • Try to gather just 3 to 5 stems from one plant, as they are quite slow growing.
  • Cut tips off of branches (down to the berries) to give the stem a fuller look.
  • Put branches into water, berries stay attached longer when arranged in water.

No matter what type of shrub you harvest from be sure to:

  • Make clean cuts with sharp clippers.
  • Cut branches off the plant at a straight angle to make the wound as small as possible.
  • Disinfect your tools after each use. 

If you have any shrub pruning questions, ask below or send us a message.

Written by
Kristina Howley

Kristina Howley

I am all in when it comes to gardening. Almost every part of the experience delights me – new leaves emerging in spring, pollinators buzzing in summer, birds devouring berries in fall, and the somber beauty of seed heads in winter. Thanks to a background in horticulture and gardening my own clay-filled, flowery USDA zone 5b plot, I’ve learned plenty of practical things as well. I like sharing these joys and lessons with my fellow gardeners and soon-to-be gardeners any way I can.


Get The Latest Updates

Love plants? So do we!

Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter for inspiration, information, and ideas to make your garden or landscape more beautiful and easier to care for.

Related Posts

Close Wishlist

Scholarship Application

*Completing this form does not guarantee a scholarship. A staff member will confirm scholarship availability directly. Receipts must be submitted within 10 weeks from the conclusion of the event.
Gardening Simplified magazine
[everest_form id="4997"]