Pruning plants at the right time keeps them healthy and strong, producing abundant flowers and fruit for you to enjoy. Spring is the best time to prune many deciduous shrubs, especially those that flower in late summer. Here’s our quick guide to what to prune this spring.
Shrubby dogwoods (Cornus alba, Cornus sanguinea and Cornus sericea) are grown for their brightly coloured stems which stand out beautifully in winter gardens. Now’s the time to prune these so that they produce new colourful stems for next winter. Cut back old stems to 5-7.5cm (2-3in) above ground level. Leave young plants to establish for a year or two before hard pruning, and less vigorous varieties, such as Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ can be pruned every couple of years.
Bush roses should be pruned in late winter or early spring, just as they start to put out new shoots. Remove any dead, damaged or crossing branches, and any thin spindly shoots. Next, shorten the remaining stems, cutting back by a third to a half, just above an outward-facing bud. Aim to produce a rounded shrub.
Prune mophead hydrangeas in spring, cutting back to the first set of strong buds below the old flowerhead. Lacecap hydrangeas can be cut back to the second pair of buds below the flowerhead. On older established plants, cut back one or two old stems down to ground level to promote new growth.
Hydrangea paniculata and Hydrangea arborescens can also be pruned in spring. Cut back last year’s stems to a strong pair of buds low down on the stem, and remove any dead wood.
Buddleja davidii can be cut back hard in spring to between 30-60cm (1-2ft) above ground level. This will stop it getting leggy and ensure a fabulous display of flowers in summer. If the plant is very tall and bushy, start by cutting it down to half its height, so that you have easier access to the main stems at the base. (Note: Buddleja alternifolia, which has long, fluffy flowers, and Buddleja globosa, with round orange flowers, should be pruned after flowering in summer.)
Hardy fuchsias should be pruned in spring once they start to show signs of new growth. Cut each stem down to just above a pair of leaf buds around 7-10cm (3-4in) above ground level. Tender fuchsias that are overwintered indoors can be pruned in early spring, cutting the stems down to just above the lowest pair of strong buds.
Established forsythias should be pruned as soon as possible after they have finished flowering, to keep them from getting leggy. Cut back all flowered stems to strong outward-facing buds lower down the stems. Remove any spindly growth, and cut one in every five older stems down to ground level to encourage new growth.
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