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21 May 2015

The Importance of Pruning

You may not be aware of the importance of pruning your shrubs and climbers, but it can make the difference between getting a good display or a poor one.

Many ornamental shrubs and trees can be left to grow without regular pruning, but occasionally you may need to restrict the size, improve the shape, increase vigour, remove dead or unsightly growth, or keep the plant in a healthy state to produce flowers and/or berries.

Some shrubs, if left unpruned, continue growing from where the growth ended the previous season, becoming top heavy, flowering well above eye level, and with a bare base.

Pruning is not only done to keep a plant to the required size and shape. Many plants flower on growth made the previous year while others flower on the current year's growth. I have tended to give my flowering current bushes, which flower in the spring, a trim in the autumn and they have looked ok the following spring. However they flower on growth made the previous year and should be pruned as soon as they have finished flowering, in order to give them as long as possible to put on growth during the year. This year I have pruned them early and should get a better display next year.

Pruning summer-flowering shrubs annually in spring gives a better flowering display that year. Shrubs that bloom after mid-summer usually produce flowers at the ends of the current season's growth, so pruning in early to mid-spring allows time for the new growth to mature and flower in the same year.

Climbers and wall shrubs that flower on the previous year's growth should be pruned after flowering, and where flowering occurs on the current year's growth prune in late winter or spring. Clematis fall into three different pruning groups depending on the type and when they flower.

Evergreen shrubs flower on new wood, so pruning these plants annually will improve flowering, extend their life and prevent them from becoming too woody. They should be pruned immediately after flowering where flowering is on the previous year's growth, or in early to mid-spring the following year if flowering is on the current year's growth.

Once established, most non-flowering evergreen shrubs are fairly low maintenance and need little or no regular pruning, but when it is required, pruning is generally carried out in mid to late spring.

If you want to get the best out of your plants, it is worth getting acquainted with their pruning needs.
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