What to prune in autumn

What to prune in autumn

Find out which plants need pruning in autumn and how to go about it.

Autumn is a busy season in the pruning calendar, the perfect time to remove old growth to get plants into shape. Many plants that have played a star role in borders in summer will need tidying up in autumn – cut back dead stems and top growth to prevent fungal diseases from setting in. Fruit bushes such as currants and gooseberries will benefit from thinning out, while perennials that lack decorative seed heads should be cut back to the ground. Autumn is also the time to prune tender plants such as lavender and rosemary, which won’t withstand pruning in winter.

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Find out what to prune in autumn in out list, below.


Soft and bush fruit

What to prune in autumn - pruning autumn-fruiting raspberries
What to prune in autumn – pruning autumn-fruiting raspberries

Thin out blackcurrants, gooseberries and redcurrants, by pruning out the fruited stems. For redcurrants, cut the current season’s growth to a pair of buds from the base. Prune summer-fruiting raspberries after they have fruited, by cutting the canes to the ground. If you haven’t pruned out the old stems of summer-fruiting raspberries, you can do that now as well, tying in the new canes for next year’s crop.


Herbaceous perennials

What to prune in autumn - pruning asters
What to prune in autumn – pruning asters

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 before winter. You can leave perennials in place for wildlife, especially if they have attractive seedheads. However, untidy perennials that lack decorative seedheads can be cut back, including the following: delphiniums, lupins, peonies, phlox, autumn asters


Mediterranean shrubs

What to prune in autumn - pruning lavender
What to prune in autumn – pruning lavender

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

Mediterranean shrubs like rosemary lavender and cistus should be cut back after flowering but before winter. Clip the plantsback using secateurs, to tidy, deadhead and reshape them all in one go. Never cut back into old wood, as this can kill the plants. Leave tender French lavender until spring.


Yew hedges

trimming-a-yew-hedge-2

Tough, hardy yew can tolerate later pruning than most other hedging plants. If you want to clip your hedge only once a year, then do it in early autumn, as its outline will stay crisp all winter.


Ornamental trees

What to prune in autumn - pruning an acer tree
What to prune in autumn – pruning an acer tree
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Trees such as acers and sorbus provide beautiful autumn colour as the borders begin to fade. Once the leaves have fallen prune ornamental trees while dormant, during autumn and early winter.