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Growing Stuff  Articles:  11. The Gentle Art of Pruning
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1. What is Pruning?
      In its simplest form, pruning is simply cutting back the branches of bushes, shrubs and trees.

2. Why Prune?
    There are a number of reasons to prune bushes, shrubs or trees:
- To reduce or maintain shape
- To get rid of dead, diseased and weak material that will be susceptible to disease
- To allow good air circulation to avoid mildew or other fungal disease
- To encourage growth which most pruning will do.

3. What not to Prune
     Pruning experts suggest some plants respond well to little or no pruning and form a good shape left to their own, such as some magnolias, ornamental cherries, Japanese maples and daphnes.
      Plants not to prune at all tend to be Berberis, Rhododendron etc.

I suppose the most general comment one can make is don’t prune plants at the wrong time of the year. Here is where we move into controversial areas with differing ideas coming from different gardening ‘experts’ (of which I am not one! I am an enthusiast who simply wants to encourage others to be enthusiasts)

It is possible with a handful of gardening books to work out when is the best time to prune certain plants, but for the table below we have to thank that patriarch of gardening, Alan Titchmarsh and Gardening World magazine. For a monthly virtual mini-encyclopaedia of gardening, we don’t think this magazine can be beaten and, as we’ve said elsewhere, if you’re a Tesco shopper it doesn’t take many vouchers to take out an annual subscription. It’s really worth doing.  
Clematis - deciduous varieties
Cut back to about 1m high to remove long, old growth and encourage strong strong flowering shoots
Roses - climbing, floribundas, Hybrid teas, specials
Hard prune all stews of large flowered types cto promote flowering shoots
Overgrown deciduous shrubs such as Cotinus, Berberis, Flowering currant, Magnolia
Remove the oldest, least productive main branches plus any that are badly placed. Don't cut out more than 1/3 of a plant in any one year
Plants that 'bleed' - woody deciduous plants suh as Acewrs, Birches, Figs, Grapevines
Prune during mid-winter while the plant is deeply dormant. This shouldensure that the cut stems don't bleed sap whiuch can weaken the plant.
Coloured stemmed deciduous shrubs - Cornus alba etc., Ornamental rubus, Willows
Remove the previous year's stems right down to the base to encourage strong young growth that has the most vividly coloured bark
Summer-flowering deciduous shrubs - Buddleja davidii, French lavendar, :avatera, Hebes
Cut back hard to reduce the size and tidy up the shape. This will encourage vigourous flowering shoots.|Prune any shrubs that flower after June, in spring
Herbaceous Perennials - plants with decorative seed heads or stems including Deciduous grasses, Sea holies, Sedums, Thistles
Tidy perennials and ornamental grasses by removing seedheads and stems that were left for decorative purposes or as a winter habitat for insects
Winter-flowering evergreen and deciduous shrubs and climbers, such as Lonicera x purpusii, Viburnham x bodnantense, Winter Jasmine
Most winter cflowering shrubs only need a light tidy up. After flowering, dead head and trim into shape that will encourage new growth that will flower next year.
Tender Shrubs - including plants that can be damaged by late frosts - Abutilon, outdoor Fuchsias, Hibiscus syriacus, Romneya
Remove any killed by frost to encourage strong new growth to grow from low down in the plant, waiting until all chance of frosts has gone.
Spring Flowering Shrubs - shrubs that flower on stems formed in the previous year including Deutzia, Flowering quince, Forsythia, Philadelphus
Prune after flowering to en courage strong new growth that will flower next year . Remove the old woody stems right dfown to the base.
Fruit Trees - removing soft new growth will promote fruit formation - Apples, Cherries, Pears, Plums.
Prune out excess new growth. The aim is to create space that will allowq more light and air through the tree. This will help fruit to ripen.
Hedges and Topiary - cut back curtrent season's growth to maintain their shapes - incl. Beech and hornbeam, Box, Leylandi and thuja, Privet and laurel.
Clip slow growing beech, hornbeam or box at the start and end of the summer. Trim fast growing privet every six weeks.
Soft and bush fruit - pruned now, the following will crop better next year once thinned out - Blackcurrants, Gooseberries, |Raspberries, Redcurrants
Prune out the fruited stems of blackcurrants, gooseberries and raspberries. Cut the current season's growth of redcurrants right back, down to a paior of buds from the base.
Herbaceous perennials - untiudy varieties that lack decorative seedheads incl. Delphiniums, Lupins, Peonies, Phlox.
If your borders are fuill of tall and messy perennials you can remove dead flower stems (and basal foliage if necessary) to tidy thingsd up prior to winter.
Mediterranean shrubs - sun-loving shrubs that will not tolerate hard pruning in winter, such as Cistus, Common lavendar, Cotton lavender, Rosemary
After flowering, clipthe plants to tidy deadhead and reshape all in one go.Don't cvut back into old wood in autumn. Leave tender French lavender until spring.
Yew hedges - tough hardy yew can tolerate later pruning than most other hedging plants - Taxus baccata and its varieties.
If you only wnat to cliup[ once a year then do it early in autumn and then the outline will stay crisp all winter.