Complete Guide: How to Prune

Pruning is an essential job that is often overlooked, but with a little planning and preparation in advance then we can easily maintain the long term health and vibrancy of the garden.  For larger trees it can sometimes be safer and easier to consult a professional, but most pruning is a simple do it yourself job.

Why do I need to prune?

  1. Promotes healthy development – By removing the old, dying or weak branches from the trees/shrubs this will allow the structure to become stronger and flowering thus to become more prolific and less prone to disease.
  2. Maintain the ornamental appearance – Removing damaged or wayward shoots will stop the branches from becoming entangled and messy.
  3. Controls height and shape – If you are looking to keep certain plants, such as climbers or vigorous growing shrubs from becoming unmanageable, then regular and hard pruning will be a must.
  4. Promotes flowering and fruiting – Proving can improve air circulation, should result in more flowers or a much better and larger crop year on year for fruit.

How to Prune

As a starting point cut back and remove all dead and diseased wood.  Always work with the natural habit and structure of the tree or shrub, to encourage continued natural growth. This can be followed up with removing any crossing or rubbing branches at the centre of the plant.  By removing these branches which can act as a barrier to further growth, you will in fact improve circulation around the shrubs/tree, helping to reduce the likelihood of plant disease.

When removing stems, we suggest cutting at a little above healthy buds, cutting back around 0.5cm above.  Never cut back and leave short stubs.  Make all cuts perpendicular to the branch and close to the branch collar to facilitate rapid healing.

For fruit trees, its important to encourage healthy growth and a bumper crop of fruit. It’s critical to prune before the buds appear from mid-late spring.  Make sure that any rubbing or branches that cross each other are trimmed back completely.  Identify damaged or weakened branches and remove these also. Create a simple open structure where the side shoots can develop and become stronger.

SHOP SHRUBS AND TREES NOW

For more information, follow the links below to read our previous posts on pruning different plants;

How and when to Prune Ornamental Trees and Shrubs

How and when to Prune Climbing Plants

How and when to Prune Fruit Trees

How and when to Prune Roses

How to Plant Roses

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Few shrubs/plants will add the elegance and beauty to the British garden quite like a Rose. Roses can come in a number of colours, shapes and sizes and are grown for their attractive and often fragrant flowers, flowering mainly in summer and autumn.

Ht-roses
HT Roses. Prolific flowering, scented well formed blooms, these classic and popular roses are prized for their distinctive colour and shape. From left to right Lovers Meeting, Black Baccara and Sunblest.

Roses are ideal for planting as stand-alone specimens, planted together in groups, miniature roses can be used in raised beds and climbing varieties to climb a wall, trellis or a fence. All make perfect cut flowers.

Rose-Tickled-Pink
Floribunda Roses. Produces in clusters these really give you more roses for your money! Great bedding plants and good in the vase, the blooms are open and less of a classic rose shape than the HT varieties but they do have a real charm that’s all their own. Image variety Tickled Pink.

How to Plant Roses

 

To plant, dig a hole large enough to take the roots when fully outspread, remembering that the point at which the plant was originally budded should be sufficiently low in the hole to be 2.5cm below the surface of the soil when it is filled in. Distribute the roots evenly round the hole and put in a little fine soil to which has been added a small amount of bone meal.

Fill in a further 5cm of ordinary soil over the roots and tread in firmly. Tread in additional soil firmly at each stage as the hole is filled. Roses must be firmly planted. If they are not the winds of winter will loosen the roots and may cause the newly planted rose to die.

Generally speaking, the depth of holes in which the roses are to be planted will vary between 10-20cm but examination of the plants will show quite clearly the depth to which they were originally planted and this depth should be adhered to provided that it does place the point at which the stock was budded just below the surface of the soil.

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Still impossible but highly coveted – the elusive blue Rose. These two are the closest you can get in nature, Rose Blue Moon and Rose Rhapsody in Blue.

How to Prune Roses

(Bush Roses, Floribunda or Hybrid Tea)

Bush Roses should be well pruned in mid-March in Southern England and further north this should be deferred at such a rate that in the North of Scotland it is done in the second week of April.

Floribunda Roses are a little tenderer and should be pruned one week later than the above dates.

Newly planted Hybrid Tea Roses should always be pruned back hard in the spring, provided the roots are firmly established, leaving only three or four eyes per stem, generally leaving about 15-25cm in length. Roses are roughly pruned in the nursery to approximately 35-45cm of stem. If left unpruned they will die back along the stem and perish or produce leggy poor specimens.

Climbing Roses

 

Do not prune for two years after planting and then only sparsely, removing unrequired growing tips. Weak or dead wood should be removed.

Standard Roses

Standard-Rose-Pascalli-0001746

Stake well with expandable ties, driving in the stake below the head of the tree. Plant Rose Tree to old soil mark level. Put liberal amounts of planting medium in hole. Prune back well in spring to good bud. You’ll find a helpful How To Video with our garden expert Jeff Turner here.

Miniature Roses

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These are miniature versions of Hybrid Tea or Floribunda types and should be treated the same allowing for the difference of scale. Miniature Roses are ideal for borders and rockeries or as pot plants, though they should be in the dry atmosphere of the house only for limited periods. Prune hard after planting.