Gardening – Pruning

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You may need to prune a subject for good performance or to cut away diseased wood for rejuvenation, limiting the size or cutting away unwanted growth. Certain plants need older wood for flowering and it is therefore necessary to know the plants requirements when pruning. You will need sharp and clean tools, such as a pruning saw, bushman saw, secateurs or pruning shears. Commercial sealant should be used in disease-risk cases and always on roses, never use nail polish!

Shrubs can be pruned to a single stem, any shape or size preferable or encouraged to form a bush. Instead of pruning once in a while severely from which the plant will take long to recover, prune lightly more regularly. Some plants like rosemary and lavenders dislike being cut back hard, so take note. Annual pruning seasons depend on the plant but additional light pruning for shaping purposes, controlling overgrowth or removing the dead and straggly growth can be done throughout the year.

Fruiting trees should be pruned to a cup-shape, enabling the sun to reach the centre and to encourage the growing of fruiting wood. A balance between the tree's top size and root growth is essential and clipping back some of the roots may be unavoidable.

Hedges need patience. One can safely spring-prune half of the previous season's new growth. Note: always keep the bottom wider than the top for stability.

Hydrangeas should, after a season of flowering be cut down to three buds above the ground, but don't prune if there was no flowering.


The two reasons for pruning are for health and flowers. Enough said? By removing unwanted growth and cutting back existing growth, you encourage renewed, strong growth while improving the shape of the plant. The new stems will carry a wealth of flowers - given you water and feed the plant too! Plan for pruning during late July and/or August with no more threat of frost, and pre-spray a week before with lime sulphur (one part to eight parts of water).

Floribundas and hybrid tea roses:
(Note: Weak bushes should be cut back more severely) First cut away all dead, sprawling or diseased stems.
Cut the bush down to about knee-height (plus-minus 75 cm).
Ensure clean cuts.
Select now about four of the healthiest, green stems and cut the rest off, down to the ground.
De-leaf the remaining ones and level them off.
End off with another spray of lime sulphur.

English roses a.k.a David Austin roses:
Remove weak stems to the ground and trim very long stems to the height of the bush. Overall pruning is moderate.

Ramblers, climbers and heritage roses:
Climbers can have their flowered stems plus the dead- and diseased growth removed. Then side stems on the remaining green stems can be cut back to about 150mm.
Tie the long stems over the support and cut any loose-hanging canes back. Certain, older, climbing types of hybrid teas should be tied horizontally and left to it - maybe only removing diseased or dead growth.
Spring-flowering roses should be pruned after flowering.

Miniature roses:
Cut miniature roses down to about 10cm from the ground and remove all dead or old stems. Cut side stems back to about 17cm long.


Winter Garden Care: To Spray or Not to Spray? / Using Winter Annuals Effectively / Guidelines to Planting Seedlings / Februaury in the Kitchen Garden / Start a Kitchen Garden / Container Recipes / Garden Plants Perfect for Attracting Beneficial Insect Parasites and Predators / The Living World of Conifers / Preparing Roses for Spring / Pruning is Rewarding / Spring Seed Sowing / Spiders and Pesticides / Cold Blooded Wildlife: The Gift of Nature / Predatory Ladybirds: Nature's Solution to Aphid Control / Organic Plant Nutrition / Organics and Chemicals / Irrigation Practice in Landscaping - An Alternative View / Drip Irrigation in Landscaping

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