Mar 18, 2012
Have you ever looked up Pruning in a Gardening book? You could be excused for thinking that you have mistakenly opened a book on Nuclear Physics! Luckily it isn’t anything like as complicated as the diagrams, footnotes and “don’t forgets” make it seem. It has a simple principle behind it – I suppose Husbandry would be the best definition of it.
The right tools are always a great help, you will need secateurs and a pair of thick gardening gloves, especially if you are going to be cutting back anything thorny. There are two main kinds of secateurs Bypass and Anvil I prefer Anvil but it is a personal thing. Buy ones with bright handles so you can find them more easily- fluorescent would be great and maybe bells and whistles, I still manage to lose them anyway. I put them down and they disappear- I bet ones with GPS would be a sell-out!
What you are doing is helping your plants to grow strong and be healthy. When you cut the tips of branches, you are redirecting sideways the energy that would otherwise go to lengthening them, so they will put out leaves all along the branches. Which will make them grow nice and bushy, what the Trade call “well furnished.” And there will be more energy for flowering so the flowers will be better and more abundant.
So… first thing to do with all your plants is to examine them carefully for broken pieces or dead twigs and, it’s very simple, with a SHARP pair of secateurs snip them off – always BELOW the break or dead part. That is because die-back, as it’s called, can be a sort of plant gangrene and keep spreading – unless you make your cut in a live (green) part. Cut out any criss-crossing branches as well, shrubs thrive if the inside is kept open and the air and sun can get to all parts helping to keep mildew at bay.
It is a good idea to prune when there are no leaves as it helps you to see how best to shape your plant but, and it is a BIG but, do not go mad and chop away ‘til any resemblance to any plant living or dead is coincidental! You can’t glue it back together you know.
An old tip is to do it in stages if the plant has got out of hand. And it means you have enough time to see how much you have actually cut off. I like to keep the natural shape with the pretty arching branches that Mother Nature designed.
Next week Rosy Prospects- how to prune the Divas of the plant world.