When to prune

The Simple Things - - NEST -

Get started with the fol­low­ing guide, but do fur­ther re­search to check the spe­cific needs of your plants, in­clud­ing the fre­quency of prun­ing needed.


Most roses: cut to an out­ward-fac­ing bud to achieve an open-cen­tred form. Late-summer and au­tumn-flow­er­ing climbers: prune when the buds be­gin to swell.


Late-win­ter- and springflow­er­ing climbers: trim lightly af­ter bloom­ing at end of sea­son. Late-summer-flow­er­ing shrubs: can be cut back hard in early spring (only those that flower on the cur­rent sea­son’s growth, such as bud­dleias). Win­ter-flow­er­ing shrubs: prune early spring to get good shape. Shrubs with colour­ful stems, eg dog­wood: prune hard when new fo­liage be­gins to show in early March. Woody peren­ni­als: any left for over­win­ter­ing birds and in­ver­te­brates can now be ti­died.


Ev­er­greens: re­quire lit­tle more than cut­ting out any dead, dis­eased or dam­aged wood. Ram­bling and climbing roses: trim to stop them tak­ing up too much space. Mem­bers of the prunus fam­ily: prun­ing helps to pre­vent sil­ver leaf dis­ease, which is wind­borne from the end of au­tumn to spring.

Birch and mag­no­lias: prune in late summer rather than in win­ter, when they are likely to bleed sap heav­ily (see page 34).


Most de­cid­u­ous shrubs and trees: prune lightly in au­tumn or win­ter. Herba­ceous peren­ni­als: cut back by re­mov­ing dead flower stalks.

Woody peren­ni­als: ideally, leave the types with good seed­heads (as food for birds) and hol­low stems (th­ese pro­vide homes for hi­ber­nat­ing in­sects) un­til spring. Cur­rants and berries: prune and thin out.

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