Summer-flowering shrubs such as buddleja, hardy fuchsia, spiraea, lavatera, hibiscus, caryopteris, leycesteria and perovskia are best pruned in spring. They flower on the current season’s growth, so pruning them in early spring, when they come into growth, encourages vigorous shoots and abundant flowers later in the season.
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Pruning in spring also opens up the plant and reinvigorates it, encouraging strong new shoots to grow from the base. This prevents the plant from becoming old and woody and bare at the base. If left unpruned, plants will form a tangled mess of stems, and all the flowers will be concentrated at the top.
Follow our advice on pruning for in spring for maximum impact in summer.
Encourage more flowers
Use secateurs to remove the weak, overcrowded and damaged shoots first. This lets you see which strong shoots to keep to make up the main framework. Cut old, weak or dead stems down to ground level. This will stimulate the growth of vigorous new shoots from buds hidden at the base of the shrub.
Pruning the stem of a shrub down to ground level
Prune to an outward-facing bud
Prune strong stems to an outward facing bud. Cut just above the bud at an angle.
Pruning at a slant just above an outwards-facing bud
Pruning in spring will also help to shape your shrub. Aim to create an open framework of well-spaced stems to keep the shrub productive. Aim for a well-spaced network of stems.
A shrub shaped nicely by pruning to create an open framework of well-placed stems
Mulch around the base
After pruning, apply a generous layer (5-10cm) of mulch around the base. Use well-rotted manure or garden compost. This gives the plant a boost and promotes flowering.
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Handfuls of well-rotted mulch
Exceptions to the rule
Exceptions to this rule are the taller spring- and early summer-flowering Spiraea thunbergii, Spiraea cinerea ‘Grefsheim’ and Spiraea nipponica ‘Snowmound’, which should all be pruned in midsummer, after flowering.