It seems like pruning time has come early again this year due to the mild winter we have been experiencing thus far. What a pleasant surprise it was to have roses flowering throughout winter. And even seeing plants such as Clivias in bloom a lot earlier than we normally do. Despite the risk of a late frost always being there, now is the time to dust off those secateurs after their hibernation.
Why is it necessary to prune plants?
The main reason for pruning any plant is to encourage new growth. This will produce better blooms or fruit and at the same time promote a neat and tidy plant. Always bear in mind that new growth after pruning can be very sensitive to frost. Ensure that your secateurs and loppers are sharp and oiled to make pruning hassle-free. For any stem or twig smaller than one’s thumb, a secateur is best. While for anything bigger, a lopper would be perfect. I always prefer making my pruning cuts just above the bud at a slight angle and where possible, have the bud facing outwards.
- Start 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 while the head of standard roses can be pruned back by half.
- Miniature and groundcover roses are best pruned back by half with a garden shear.
- Prune climbers back by about a third from the previous season’s growth, very 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 sticks together, not a thorn in the side anymore.
Have a look at our local rose expert Ludwig Taschner making rose pruning easy
Pruning Fruit Trees
- Pruning your fruit trees into a chalice- 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 pruning required on mature trees. Only prune damaged branches and thin out occasionally.
Pruning Perennial Shrubs
- Prune spring-flowering shrubs back as soon they have finished flowering, whilst summer flowering plants can be pruned back by middle August.
- Prune them back by a third whilst the more vigorous growing shrubs can be pruned back by half.
- Certain plants like Hydrangeas and Spireas should only be pruned back after flowering
After pruning seal any wounds with pruning seal. I would recommend spraying with SK eco oil if scale is a risk. This is a mineral-based oil that cannot burn the buds. Now for the cleanup! Cut up all the stems into smaller pieces and add them to your compost heap or use a mulch rather than throwing everything away in refuse. Other bits and pieces are perfect for getting a spring braai started.
I hope you enjoy the pruning and always remember the more you prune now the better a show you’ll have in spring.