Time to Prune
Late winter is pruning time for most trees, shrubs and other plants that benefit from pruning. Examples are fruit trees, grapevines, roses, summer flowering trees. Only plants that flower and fruit on old wood or are spring-flowering should have their pruning later in the year after the flowering or fruiting has finished.
In late winter the plants are still dormant which means pruning has several advantages:
- Pruning cuts will not weep sap and the cut will heal rapidly when the sap starts to flow.
- For deciduous plants, you will be able to see the branch structure and shape the plant.
- Cool temperatures reduce the stress to the plant from pruning.
When you prune these are the things to consider:
- Cut away all dead material that may harbour pests and disease.
- Dispose of pruned material in green waste, burning or in another way that ensures pests and diseases will not affect plants in the new season.
- Use clean sharps secateurs, loppers and saws. Wiping with dilute bleach or methylated spirit between jobs will sterilise the blades.
- Check with the plant label, your garden centre/nursery, online or local garden society what severity of pruning your plants require.
- Aim to create a pleasing shape for the plant by thinning out internal branches.
- Where two branches are touching prune out the weaker ones.
- Do not prune close to buds or other branches/limbs. As the cut heals the wood will die back to some extent and you do not want this die-back to affect the bud or branch.
- Create clean cuts that slope to run rainwater off the cut and to the outside of the plant. The ideal slope of a cut would be 20-30°.
- Remove sprouts and suckers.
- After pruning apply fertiliser for the new flush in spring.
Other useful articles