Four pruning ‘mistakes’ to never make in the garden

Carol Klein explains the importance of judicious pruning

1. Not pruning at correct angle

Gardeners should practise mastering the right angle when pruning flowers, bushes, shrubs or fruit trees, which must be at a 45 degree angle.

Cutting at an angle will allow water to drain off the fresh cut and help to prevent disease which could end up killing the plant.

To make a proper cut, position the secateurs down towards the roots or base and make a clean cut before removing the secateurs and going again.

2. Not pruning at correct time

The best time to prune depends on the plant or shrub needing to be pruned, but it is typically in winter or early spring, with regular deadheading throughout the summer.

According to Teo Spengler, a gardening expert at GardeningKnowHow, if you make serious seasonal pruning mistakes and prune a tree in summer or autumn, gardeners may have removed buds, flowers or fruit.

However, some trees are susceptible to silver leaf disease and should therefore be pruned in summer when the risk of infection is reduced.

3. Not using clean secateurs

Cleaning secateurs regularly is extremely important because they will function better as well as being safer to use in the garden.

If gardeners don’t sharpen or clean their gardening tools, they are less likely to make a clean cut when pruning.

This means a plant or shrub may take longer to heal, opening up an invitation for many diseases to enter the plant.

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Gardening expert Madison Moulton from Blooming Backyard said: “Most often, the goal of pruning is to encourage the plant to grow better, stronger and healthier. If a branch is damaged by blunt shears, it is far more likely to face trauma and stunted growth. 

“These rough cuts do not heal quickly and are likely to strip the bark or stem, creating an even larger open wound vulnerable to damage.”

4. Pruning too much or never at all

Pruning too much, or cutting too much off at once, may lead to a leak plant or shrub which can simply exhaust them.

They will also be less likely to tolerate the wind and fend off diseases as well as insect invasions which can permanently damage them.

A shrub or tree’s foliage is important for protecting it from excessive sun exposure so make sure to leave some foliage behind.

Madison said: “Heavy pruning at the wrong time can cause irreparable damage to the growth of the plant. Plants with stunted growth or an interruption in their natural growth may take years to recover, if they even recover at all.”

On the other hand, not pruning at all is also one of the “mistakes” gardeners make, although this is much less risky than pruning too much.

Many plants don’t need to be pruned, but gardeners do need to remove diseased leaves or spent flowers.

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