Plants to prune in autumn

Autumn is a busy season in the pruning calendar.


Many currants and berries will profit from thinning out, as will perennials that lack decorative seed heads that could be left over winter. Also, autumn is the time to tackle plants such as lavender and rosemary, which won’t withstand pruning in winter.

Discover more, below, in our summary of plants to prune in autumn.

Tough, hardy yew can tolerate later pruning than most other hedging plants.

Soft and bush fruit

The following plants will crop better next year once thinned out:

Blackcurrants, gooseberries, redcurrants

Key tool: secateurs

How to do it: prune summer-fruiting raspberries after they have fruited – prune out the fruited stems. In the cooler months, prune blackcurrants, gooseberries and redcurrants. Prune out the fruited stems of blackcurrants and gooseberries. Cut the current season’s growth of redcurrants down to a pair of buds from the base. Blackcurrants, gooseberries, redcurrants and autumn-fruiting raspberries can also be pruned in winter. You could also use loppers.


Herbaceous perennials

Untidy varieties that lack decorative seedheads, including the following:

Delphiniums, lupins, peonies, phlox, autumn asters

Key tool: secateurs

How to do it: if your borders are full of tall and messy perennials, you can remove dead flower stems (and basal foliage if necessary) to tidy things up prior to winter. You could also use hand shears.


Mediterranean shrubs

Sun-loving shrubs that will not tolerate hard pruning in winter, such as:

Cistus, lavender, rosemary

Key tool: topiary shears

How to do it: after flowering, clip the plants to tidy, deadhead and reshape all in one go. Don’t cut back into old wood in autumn. Leave tender French lavender until spring. You could also use shears or secateurs.


Yew hedges

Tough, hardy yew can tolerate later pruning than most other hedging plants.

Taxus baccata and its varieties

Key tool: hand shears


How to do it: if you only want to clip once a year, then do it in early autumn – the outline will stay crisp all winter. You could also use secateurs and topiary shears for intricate details.