You’ve got to be cruel to be kind

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - HOME - Peter Cun­dall

WHEN long- ne­glected roses and de­cid­u­ous fruit trees are fi­nally pruned, it is some­times a cruel- to- be- kind job. The aim is to cut out old, dis­eased or dead branches which re­strict healthy growth.

July is a per­fect time to get to work and lib­er­ate and stim­u­late th­ese plants, back to full vigour.

Roses of­ten be­come badly over­grown and full of dead wood. Most thrive when reg­u­larly pruned ev­ery win­ter. Here are some easy ways to prune var­i­ous types of rose plants this month.

Large- flow­ered and clus­ter- flow­ered bush roses ( once called hy­brid tea and flori­bunda) are the most com­monly grown va­ri­eties in Tas­ma­nia.

To prune, start from the base and cut out all twiggy ma­te­rial close to the ground. Suck­ers al­ways sprout be­low the graft- union, so cut them right out even be­low the soil if pos­si­ble.

Next, cut out any dead or old branches which have lost vigour. All weak, spindly shoots should be com­pletely re­moved.

Any long, vig­or­ous branches that grew last sum­mer are wa­ter- shoots. Apart from re­mov­ing old seed or flower heads, leave them un­touched.

All re­main­ing healthy branches are cut back by a third.

Stan­dard roses are sim­ply bush roses grafted to the tops of me­tre- high stems. They are pruned the same way, but al­ways above the graft union. The main stan­dard be­neath the graft is never pruned.

Pa­tio roses are small bush va­ri­eties and are pruned a lit­tle harder even us­ing hedge shears. Ground­cover or “flower- car­pet” rose plants are also cut back very hard us­ing a brush- cut­ter if nec­es­sary to leave just a clus­ter of short, 100mm- long stubs stick­ing up from the soil. Just rake all de­bris clear af­ter­wards.

Minia­ture roses are cropped back to just above the ground. Any show­ing weak growth can be thinned to re­move dead, twiggy ma­te­rial.

Old- fash­ioned or shrub roses which are ne­glected usu­ally look an ab­so­lute mess. Most flower only once in early sum­mer.

The branches are best thinned rather than cut back hard. The eas­i­est way is to cut out one or two of the old­est branches, close to the ground.

The re­main­ing branches are left in­tact, apart from the re­moval of with­ered blooms and seed cap­sules.

Climb­ing roses which have been ig­nored for too long need dras­tic treat­ment in win­ter. If one third of the old­est, thick­est branches are com­pletely cut out al­most to the ground th­ese won­der­ful flow­er­ing plants take on a new, vig­or­ous life.

Re­sist the temp­ta­tion to cut back any long canes that reach for the sky. In­stead, pull them down care­fully so they can be tied in to the sup­port­ing frame, trel­lis or per­gola.

Weep­ing stan­dard roses are once- bloom­ing ram­blers grafted on to tall stan­dards, 2m long.

The young, droop­ing branches are never cut back hard. Only the old­est, thick­est branches can be cut out from where they emerge just above graft unions and all re­main­ing healthy branches left to weep to the ground.

Other or­na­men­tals can also be pruned in July. Hy­drangeas are pruned by first cut­ting out old branches close to the ground and then prun­ing the re­main­ing, young branches back to a pair of fat buds.

Pan­ic­u­lata hy­drangeas are cut back very hard in win­ter.

Wis­te­rias are vig­or­ous climbers that need to be kept un­der con­trol. They are nor­mally pruned im­me­di­ately af­ter flow­er­ing in early sum­mer by re­duc­ing all long side shoots to about 10 buds.

How­ever, if the new growth from th­ese short­ened shoots is pruned by half dur­ing win­ter, spec­tac­u­lar dis­plays of flow­ers are as­sured in late spring and early sum­mer.

The lower branches of many or­na­men­tal trees, es­pe­cially those with at­trac­tive bark such as birch, maple and Chi­nese Elm can be cut off al­most flush with trunks.

This not only dis­plays the at­trac­tive bark tex­tures and colours but also al­lows rank grass or weeds grow­ing close to th­ese trees to be more eas­ily mown.

There is no point in cut­ting back the tops of or­na­men­tal trees un­less threat­en­ing to grow close to over­head wires.

Most trees and shrubs that bloom in spring or early sum­mer are never pruned in win­ter be­cause it re­moves flow­er­ing wood.

Bet­ter to wait un­til af­ter flow­er­ing be­fore get­ting stuck into them.

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