art of pruning
There are several reasons for pruning –
to keep plants within bounds, to promote fewer
but stronger stems, to remove diseased or damaged
branches, to encourage flowers and to train plants
to a desired shape. The right tools are essential:
a pair of sharp secateurs, a pair of long-handled
loppers, a narrow-bladed pruning saw and strong
gloves if thorny branches are to be tackled.
First cut out any branches that are diseased or
damaged, cutting right back to healthy or undamaged
wood. If two branches are crossing, cut the most
awkwardly placed one back to the main stem. Take
out weak branches altogether, right down to the
Pruning to preserve the shape of a tree or shrub,
or to promote growth, is done between the buds
on the stems.
Generally, buds grow either opposite
each other or alternately along the stem.
the buds are opposite, choose a suitable pair
and make a straight cut just above them.
buds alternate, make the cut slightly angled,
starting on the opposite side of the stem and
slanting upwards so that the top of the cut is
about ¼ in above the bud.
Remember that whichever way the bud you prune
back is facing, that is the direction the next
branch will grow.
If you prune back to two or
more buds, growth will be in two or more directions.
This is how you can determine the shape of the
tree or shrub.
For example, if the plant is encroaching
over a path, prune to a bud that will encourage
it to grow away from the path while, if possible,
not spoiling the overall shape of the plant.
stimulate growth on a tree or shrub that is growing
more vigorously on one side than the other, prune
back hard on the weaker side.
TO PRUNE WHICH PLANT?
Shrubs such as Buddleia davidii flower on the
current year’s growth, and are pruned in
early spring for further growth and flowering
later in the season.
Shrubs such as weigela and
deutzia, that bloom on one-year-old wood and flower
early in the year, are cut back as soon as the
flowers have faded to ensure flowering the following
season. In early spring, too, severely prune shrubs
that are grown for their coloured winter stems.
In late spring, when flowering has finished, do
any necessary trimming of shrubs that produce
their flowers on short growths extending from
the main branch. Cut back the current season’s
growth to three buds – chaenomeles are prominent
in this group.
Keep an eye on shrubs with variegated leaves.
Occasionally, they may produce a stem carrying
plain green leaves, which must be cut right back.
These shoots are more vigorous than those with
variegated leaves, and will take over the plant
if not pruned out.
CUTTING BACK CLIMBERS.
Pruning of climbing plants is governed by their
flowering times. Some flower on the current year’s
shoots from midsummer onwards, others flower between
early spring and early summer on growth made the
Cut back the late-flowering group
into older wood, just above the dormant bud.
that flower late, such as C. x jackmanii, should
be cut back to 8-9in above ground level in late
winter or early spring. Lightly trim early flowering
varieties, such as ‘Nellie Moser’,
cutting off any dead shoots at the start of the
season. Cut them hard back only when they have
outgrown their allotted space.
This also applies
to self-supporting climbers, which should be pruned
back by several feet in late summer if they start
to obstruct gutters and windows or to overwhelm
a host plant.
also: Pruning Roses