Prun­ing young shrubs

Gardeners' World - - Pruning -

The for­ma­tive years of a shrub’s life are cru­cial, and dur­ing the first cou­ple of grow­ing sea­sons you should leave as much fo­liage on the plant as pos­si­ble, so it can make plenty of su­gars by pho­to­syn­the­sis to fuel strong root growth. In these early years, prun­ing is best done around the time of leaf fall, so you can judge which are the weak­est shoots to re­move. This al­lows the plant to chan­nel all its en­ergy into mak­ing strong, worth­while stems and a vig­or­ous root sys­tem to sup­port its growth in the com­ing years. It’s im­por­tant to prune shrubs in the first cou­ple of years after plant­ing, and to start as you mean to go on. With flow­er­ing shrubs like this deutzia, aim to re­duce their height and den­sity, while leav­ing the strong­est, up­right stems un­pruned, as these will pro­duce some flow­ers next year in early sum­mer. After the first two years, prun­ing of early-flow­er­ing shrubs is best moved to straight after the blooms fade. De­pend­ing on the species, that would be any time from early spring (for shrubs such as for­sythia and win­ter-flow­er­ing hon­ey­suckle) to early sum­mer ( for deutzia and philadel­phus). For young sum­mer-flow­er­ing shrubs such as bud­dleia, lavat­era and po­ten­tilla, ini­tial prun­ing should in­volve cut­ting the plants back by a third of their height in au­tumn to stop them blow­ing around in win­ter gales. Then cut back hard in early spring, just as growth is start­ing.

With flow­er­ing shrubs, aim to re­duce their height and den­sity, while leav­ing the strong­est, up­right stems un­pruned

Thin out the stems of young flow­er­ing shrubs such as deutzia Cut young sum­mer-flow­er­ing physo­car­pus back by a third Septem­ber 2017 1 ONCE ES­TAB­LISHED, young shrubs like this deutzia will make strong, up­right shoots that will cre­ate the frame­work of the plant. These stems will carry flow­er­ing shoots next year, and should be re­tained.

4 RE­DUCE THE HEIGHT of the vig­or­ous, up­right shoots that have been made dur­ing this sea­son. Cut back by a third, to just above the point where leaves are at­tached to the stem. 2 START AT THE BASE of the shrub and re­move any thin, weak stems us­ing se­ca­teurs. Cut flush to the main stem, tak­ing care not to dam­age any of the nearby strong, up­right shoots made this year. 3 CUT OUT OLD STEMS in the cen­tre of the shrub to pre­vent con­ges­tion and dead wood at the base. It also al­lows air to cir­cu­late freely into the cen­tre, which helps to de­ter pests and dis­eases. 5 STEP BACK AND CHECK there is now an even, bal­anced ar­range­ment of strong up­right stems. De­pend­ing on the shrub’s vigour, leave be­tween three and seven stems as a frame­work to carry blooms.

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