There are many reasons to prune plants in summer – in particular to minimise the risk of fungal infection entering through pruning wounds.
Cherries and stone fruits, along with laburnum, poplars and rhododendrons are all at risk of silver-leaf disease. This is spread by fungal spores in damp conditions, which enter through fresh pruning wounds, and causes serious dieback. In summer, however, the spores are less prevalent and pruning wounds dry and heal quickly, making infection less likely.
Discover which fruits and flowers to prune in summer to prevent disease, below.
As part of the cherry family (Prunus), laurels such as cherry laurel and Portuguese laurel are susceptible to silver-leaf disease. Prune in summer by cutting back the current season’s growth by about one-third.
Young greengages can be pruned hard in summer to produce a strong framework of branches. With older trees, remove dead, diseased and crossing branches, and snip back strong new growth to leave six leaves on the branch.
Rhododendrons should require very little pruning, but it’s important that any you do carry out is done during summer. Remove crossing, weak or dead branches, as well as low-hanging branches that touch the ground.
To keep apricots cropping well, you’ll need to maintain an open shape by annually pruning out weak, old and crowded branches, in summer.
Damsons should need very little pruning, but you may want to cut back here and there, to improve the appearance. Make sure you do this in summer to avoid the tree bleeding and to prevent disease.
Known for their gorgeous, pendulous blossoms, laburnums should be pruned in the period from August to mid-winter. Prune out damaged stems, as well as others that spoil the appearance of the canopy.
As with other stone fruits such as cherries and apricots, plums are much more susceptible to silver-leaf disease if pruned outside of summer. Simply remove old wood and crowded branches to create an open shape.
Cherry trees and their relatives should be pruned in summer to avoid silver-leaf disease. Cut back new growth to just above a leaf and prune sideshoots back by half.