How to Prune Shrubs
Pruning is a complicated issue. It’s done for a few reasons, so it’s best to decide your motives so that you get it right. Here’s a simplified guide:
Pruning to tidy – overgrown shrubs and even trees can be tidied up with some judicial pruning. Cut out the oldest stems right to the ground. Remove any dead stems and branches and prune out stems where they are touching or rubbing, as these will become diseased. Tidy the shape and tie in any whippy growth.
Pruning for flowers – you need to establish whether your plant flowers on this year’s shoots and stems or on older woody stems that formed last year. Plants that flower on new stems and shoots, such as roses, can be pruned hard in late autumn, winter and early spring to generate new stems that will flower this year. Plants that flower on mature woody stems, such as forsythia should be pruned immediately after flowering. These will produce new stems that will mature for the rest of the growing season and be ready to flower next year.
Pruning to rejuvenate – Most shrubs respond well to pruning. To stimulate some fresh growth without losing the impact or presence of the plant, choose a third of the oldest, woodiest and thickest stems and cut them right back to the ground. This will encourage new stems to form from the base. The following year choose the next third oldest, woodiest and thickest stems and do the same. Repeat for year three. After three years you will have a rejuvenated shrub.
After pruning – shrubs are among the most neglected garden plants. Pruning them can force them back into life and vigorous growth so they need some extra support to maintain this. Feed with a well-balanced slow release fertilser such as Nutri Slow Release Plant Food or Earth Matters All Purpose Garden Fertiliser, then mulch generously with Bed & Border Chipped Bark or top dress over the roots with a nutrient rich planting compost such as West+ Rose, Tree & Shrub Compost & 4 Month Feed orSoil Conditioner.