Carol Klein explains the importance of judicious pruning
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Pruning plants, flowers, shrubs and trees provides many benefits for them and the garden, including promoting new growth and protecting a home from damage. It can also deter pest and animal infestations and promote the plant’s natural shape and healthy growth. However, it can be hard to know what to prune each month, so the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), have shared just a few plants to get pruning on.
Many summer-flowering deciduous shrubs can be pruned between February and March, usually those that flower on the current year’s growth, including the hydrangea paniculata.
This is a popular plant in UK gardens, known for its gorgeous colour and spicy scent which fills the whole garden.
The RHS said: “Although the only essential work is to remove dead wood in spring, these species flower more prolifically when pruned back annually to a framework of branches.
“Each spring, cut back last year’s stems to a pair of healthy buds to maintain a permanent framework.
“To produce larger flower panicles on strong, upright branches, hard prune to the lowest pair of healthy buds, creating a low framework of branches.
“This usually results in a pruned framework of no more than 25cm high but, if more height is required, cut to about 60cm tall.”
Other hydrangea species, including hydrangea aspera and hydrangea quercifolia, need minimal pruning in spring so it is important to know what variety you have before you get the secateurs out.
2. Buddleja davidii
This shrub is very large and fast-growing, known for its fragrant flowers in various shades of purple, making them a favourite amongst many gardeners.
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Pruning between February and March is ideal for this plant as it allows time for the new growth to mature and flower in the same year.
The RHS said gardeners should avoid pruning this plant in winter, as it could lead to frost damage of new shoots.
The experts added: “In early to mid-spring cut back on the previous year’s flowering stems to within one or two buds of the older woody framework. Also remove any thin, weak or dead growth.”
Pruning can, in some instances, result in disease as it enters through the cut surface. Gardeners should look out for diseases such as bacterial canker, bracket fungi and coral spot.
Wisteria is pruned twice a year, according to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), once in the summer and once in the winter.
This will help to keep it in shape and promote flowering. To prune wisteria, the RHS recommends cutting back to two or three buds to tidy it up before the growing season starts.
The experts added: “With older plants severe pruning may be needed to remove old, worn-out growths, or branches growing over windows or protruding outwards from the face of the building.”
Hard pruning involves drastically cutting back long branches and removing sections of older stems.
Gardeners should cut back bush and climbing roses in late winter to promote growth, and encourage plenty of flowers during the summer months.
To prune roses, cut back by the required amount, shaping the flower as you go. In the process, remove any dead, diseased and damaged stems, disposing of any foliage that remains.
Not all roses should be pruned now though, only shrub roses, climbing roses, hybrid teas and floribundas. Other varieties such as rambling roses can be pruned in late summer.
Make sure to use clean secateurs when pruning to avoid the build up of debris between the plants and helping to remove sap.
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