Gardens Illustrated Magazine - - Plant Profile Winter Stems -

• Cor­nus and Salix are tol­er­ant of most soils, in­clud­ing heavy clay and chalk. They thrive in fer­tile, moist con­di­tions and most are tol­er­ant of wa­ter­log­ging. Ad­e­quate mois­ture dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son pro­motes vig­or­ous growth and strong new shoots that colour well in win­ter. Although tol­er­ant of some shade, stem colour is al­ways best in an open, sunny sit­u­a­tion. • The best colour is dis­played in first-year stems that have grown well dur­ing the sea­son. Most Cor­nus and Salix are there­fore best cut back com­pletely to less than 10cm above the ground in early spring, ev­ery year, be­fore the new leaves start to de­velop. The ex­cep­tions are those grown for var­ie­gated fo­liage ef­fect, as well as their late-sea­son stems. These could be left to grow for two years be­fore hard prun­ing. Less vig­or­ous species, such as Salix ir­ro­rata, only re­quire hard prun­ing ev­ery three or four years. Rubus grown for their stems are cut back to the ground in early spring, ev­ery year, or ev­ery other year if space al­lows.

• Af­ter cut­ting back the stems, clean up around the plants, ap­ply a slowre­lease, bal­anced fer­tiliser and wa­ter thor­oughly. On dry soils mulching with or­ganic com­post or well-rot­ted ma­nure is es­pe­cially ben­e­fi­cial.

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