Pruning young shrubs
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.