Basic Pruning Tips and Tricks for Shrubs

Shrubs love a good prune! We have put together a simple pruning guide to help keep your shrubs in tiptop condition.

Spring flowering shrubs basic rules

  • Prune immediately after flowering.
  • The flowers next year will be produced on this year’s growth. Examples of shrubs in this category are forsythia, weigela  and philadelphus.
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Summer flowering shrubs basic rules

  • Prune in March and April.
  • This will encourage extra growth, therefore producing more flower.
  • Cut back to a set of buds near the base of the plants.
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Pruning Roses

  • Prune roses in March.
  • Remove dead and weak spindly growth.
  • Cut back shrub rose stems to half their own length.
  • Prune hybrid tea roses to 15cm above the ground.
  • Cut Floribunda to 1 ft above the ground.
  • Tidy climbers and ramblers if necessary otherwise tackle in the autumn.
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Pruning Hydrangeas

  • Take the dead heads off to the first pair of buds just before the dead flower head.
  • If your hydrangeas are getting out of hand, prune half of the stems down to the base of the plant this year and the other half back next year. That way you won’t miss out on a year’s flowers.
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Wisteria

Wisteria can put on a lot of growth over the summer which can be easily overlooked during winter and neglected in its care. Pruning your Wisteria in January/February will help promote the flower buds to be prolific for your late spring/early summer show.  Pruning allows the energy to go to the developing flower bud production rather than into vine growth which will happen naturally after flowering. These developing flower buds will love the warmth of the early spring sun.

PRUNING TIP: To encourage short flowering spurs, prune back to two or three buds. Flowering buds are fat, don’t prune these away! Foliage buds are thinner and flat looking.

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Fruit Trees

January is a great time to get your fruit trees under control and ready for spring as they are dormant at this time of year. The best way to prune a fruit tree is to remove any twisted or crossing branches to open up the centre so it is clear for air movement through the branches of the tree. Air movement is important as crossed branches cause stagnant air which in turn creates disease.

PRUNING TIP: Give you fruit trees a winter wash (spray) with Vitax Winter Tree Wash. Best used with a sprayer.

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Clematis

Late flowering Clematis (group 3) can get top heavy if left unpruned. This can cause your plant to overturn or result in unnatural staking which is ugly! It is quite safe to prune your Clematis in January and February. Most people are scared to prune as there are a number of old wives tales surrounding Clematis pruning. Don’t be deterred, just find a healthy pair of leaf buds about a foot off  ground level and give them a good snip.

Don’t be scared to give your plants a trim. Get out and PRUNE!

Super Pruning Tips:

  • “The Chelsea Chop” Late flowering perennials like sedums and Phlox can be chopped back with shears by half in May. This will extend the flowering period late into the year.
    If you would like both early and late flowers only cut half of the perennial back. This will give you successional flowering!
  • Always use a sharp pair of secateurs to ensure a clean cut that prevents disease.
  • We love these Fiskars Secateurs. We have been through a great many pruners over the years and not only have these lasted the longest but they are rarely affected by dirt and sap.
    The real bonus is the unique gear mechanism, this gives the secateurs more power when actually cutting, with less effort from your hand. One handle rotates as you squeeze the pruners together, this saves strain on the wrist, Ideal if you suffer with pain in the wrist and hands.