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What is the golden rule as to when to prune plants ? I heard somewhere that if a plant flowers in spring you prune it -- and i cant remember the rest. And also visa versa -- if a plant flowers in later summer months -- you prune in spring???????
Could someone please correct me.
Hi Cia , I still find pruning a bit of a mystery but I know that if a plant or shrub flowers in Spring you should prune it after it has finished flowering . Any later and you will miss out on next years flowers . I usually cut back by about a third and follow the one in three rule with the older stems. I must admit to reading my R. H. S. book at for advice at times . I've only just got to grips with Clematis pruning but I'm sure there are more friendly people on the forum who will help and know a lot more than me !
It very much depends why you are pruning? Are you wishing to contain a plant that is rather too big for its site? Do you want to encourage flowering and / or fruiting? Plants in the wild don't get pruned and they survive, so really, unless you go totally wild you can't kill anything with a bit of pruning. Indeed, to prune after flowering is a good rule, of thumb, knowing whether the plant does whatever you want it to do on new or old wood is a good idea, i cut off my lilac flowers for ages before i realised I was doing it too late - poor thing, i gave it all sorts of abuse because it didn't flower, and it was my fault. Stick to one set of guidelines, too many books will confuse you and then the plant - they are very forgiving, and want to grow, so any mistakes will correct themselves in due course.
And remember that not everything needs to be pruned - some shrubs prefer to be left alone.
Just remember that 'Growth follows the knife'. So ask yourself why you are pruning, because sometimes you can make the problem worse. For example you may want to cut back a shrub and four new shoots may come where there was one before!
I tend to prune when the plants get untidy or overgrown. Sill find it a mystery as you do jean. Buddlias are supposed to be cut back in spring but i tend to chop them in the autumn when i put the garden to bed for the winter. My huge Honeysuckle had a maasive hair cut last year as it had got very woody, this year its beautiful masses of flowers. Go with your gut feelings i reckon.
One golden rule-if it doub't -don't .
Maud - your honeysuckle is flowering ? I've not got any yet !
Wow thank you for your responses.
The pruning was mainly to keep the plant in check in the winnering months when heavy snow could damage foliage. Also to get the most out of the plant and keep it in good health so it delivers the best possible show for me.
My main shrubs are Vibernan (gorgeous scent) and buddelias - i cant get enough of them. The other bushes in my garden get the chop when i decide they are taking over more than they should.
I have a cherry blossom of which dosnt fruit that puts on a wonderful blossom dispaly for me. I pruned this in spring - cutting into a goblet like shape so air circulates and keeps disease at bay. It will need a trim before winter and its got very high. I was thinking maybe an autumn haircut for it.
I like the saying "growth follows the knife"
Cherry blossom and cherries should be pruned in summer, Cia - you are at serious risk of introducing fungal diseases and killing it if you prune at other times of the year.
Also, cherry blossom and fruiting cherry are separate plants - cherry blossom doesn't produce fruit, whatever you do, and doesn't need to be shaped like a fruiting cherry.
Oh really i was told spring was a good time. Thank you i will trim it back shortly this summer - when it arrives that is.
Another question - when the frost kills off perenials - should i leave the trimming back and tidying up till the warmer weather arrives - say spring?
If you live in a cold area you are best leaving the trimming until spring, because the dead foliage will protect the crown. It also allows birds to benefit from the seeds and gives insects, including beneficial ones, somewhere to shelter.
Some plants like to be pruned before winter but there are others that need the old foilage to give the roots a little protection from bad weather that like to be cut down in spring. Not all plants like to be cut back the same amount either, and you need to (probably only general rule I know) always cut back to something, ie new growth, new stem, first buds etc.
The best thing for you to do to avoid any disappointment is to learn about the plants individually, there are plenty of places online you can look up how to care for each plant as well many people on here with a huge amount of knowledge.
If I'm in doubt, my golden rule is going to the RHS website and searching for "prune robinia" (or whatever.) If I can't identify the plant, I ask here!
One thing I've learnt over the years is that winter or spring pruning encourages grrowth, while summer pruning discourages it. That's far too generalised to be called a golden rule though as pruning at the wrong time can be fatal some some plants/shrubs or leave them open to nasty infections.
When we,ve had sun we really have had sun, i live on the southcoast so even thoughthe weathers miserable its quite warm. Really must get my daughter to show me how to addd photos to my messages.