Spring is here! But wait, how can it be spring when it is still so cold? The signs are all around us with the spring blossoms and our gardens are waking up from their winter slumber. Although we can still expect some chilly weather in the near future, in general, it is getting warmer. As a result of the mild winter we have had so far, the roses here at the Nursery haven’t even lost their leaves yet. Still, now is the time for pruning certain plants to ensure that they perform at their best this coming season.
Pruning always encourages new growth which can be tender to the cold so be mindful of cold fronts sweeping through. Try to time your pruning to coincide with milder weather. This will give the new growth time to toughen up before it has to face potential freezing temperatures. But enough about all this winter talk, let’s get to work.
- Begin by cutting away any dead or diseased growth and tiny twigs.
- Remove any growth older than 2 seasons, as roses flower best on new growth.
- Prune all bush type roses back to knee height.
- Standard roses can be pruned back by a third.
- Miniature and ground-cover roses are best pruned back by half with a garden shear.
- Prune climbers back by about a third from the previous season’s growth, old and gnarly canes can be cut back to the ground.
- Cleaning tip: Use a long stem with plenty of thorns to scrape all the twigs together, this will make pruning less prickly.
Pruning fruit trees
- Pruning your fruit trees into a vase-like shape will allow more sunlight to reach the centre of the tree – thus providing more fruit.
- Peaches only produce fruit on new growth no older than 2 years so feel free to prune them back quite vigorously.
- Shorten branches by about 15-30cm from the base of the previous season’s new growth.
- Apricots and plums are shaped when young, with minimal maintainence required on mature trees. Only prune damaged branches and thin out the dense cluster.
- Cut out any dead growth from Blueberries, whilst cutting back rambling berries by a third from the previous season’s growth.
- Have a look at the lovely video on pruning stone fruit trees below.
General pruning tips
- Ensure that your tools are sharp to ensure a clean cut.
- Use a lopper to cut any stems or branches bigger than your thumb, then cleaning up any smaller twigs and branches with secateurs.
- Treat any pruning wounds with a pruning sealant to prevent any dieback. (Wounds on your plants that is.)
- After pruning spray with a mineral oil to get rid of any scale and pests that have survived through winter.
- Remember to protect any new growth from late frosts.
- As certain plants are more vulnerable to frost than others, ask us if you are not sure whether to prune it now.
To me, pruning finally heralds the arrival of spring in only a way that nature can. There is something therapeutic about trimming back the old to make space for the new, a bit like spring cleaning for the garden and for one’s soul. But enough talking, time to start pruning.