IF the roses, flowers, shrubs or trees are looking a little ragged then now is the time to oil the shears and cut wayward and old branches.
Typically pruning is done in the winter months when plants are dormant and leaves have finished dropping from deciduous trees or the plant has stopped flowering. Pruning is an essential part of gardening and when done correctly will encourage healthy growth and flowering. The plant will also look much better after having a trim.
Pruning branches devoid of leaves makes it easier to shape the plant and to choose which branch needs to stay or go.
“This enables you to better see the branches without leaves in the way,” says Cyclone product manager Jacquie Andrews. “Plants that are left unpruned can become a tangled mess of old and new branches all competing for air and light.”
To simplify the pruning process, Jacquie advises to have the green waste bin open and within easy reach so cuttings can be dropped inside straight away. Another tip is to approach each plant with its needs in mind and be selective in each cut: “Tailor each cut to the response you want from the plant. Where you want increased branching, shorten a stem. Where you want less congestion or to make a plant smaller, remove whole stems or limbs.
“Generally hard pruning (12-15cm) is only required for newly planted roses or neglected and weak roses. This promotes a stronger root system and stimulates new, strong branches from the bud union. Moderate pruning is the most typical for established roses, whereby only half of the branch is cut back. Otherwise, the easy-care method where the plant is cut in half is also effective for healthy, established roses.”
For a plant with new shoots “then it is best to prune above a new shoot and one that's growing in the direction you want the shape of the plant to take”.
If a plant is suspected of being diseased with deformed or discoloured leaves, Jacquie suggests sterilizing blades on pruners or loppers between each plant to minimise cross-contamination.
“If you suspect a plant is diseased and you want to be particularly careful before pruning other prized trees, sterilising your blades with tea tree oil or bleach is advisable,” she says.
To help get you pruning, follow Jacquie’s handy hints:
- Remove dead, diseased, or damaged stems as soon as you see them. Dead stems attract insects and invite diseases to develop.
- Select sharp pruners and loppers that fit comfortably in your hands, so as to achieve maximum cutting force without fatigue. A good quality pair of gloves will also protect against thorns, debris and creepy crawlies.
- For pruning stems up to 20mm in diameter, a pruner is required. When pruning large branches on trees up to 40mm in diameter, a lopper is required. Telescopic loppers are ideal for high-to-reach branches.
- Pruners and loppers come in both Bypass or Anvil blades. Bypass blades are ideal for cutting live, green and soft stems or branches with precision as the blades bypass one another providing a clean slice.
- For mature, woody and tough stems or branches, an Anvil blade pruner or lopper is suitable. Ideally, select a pruner that has a cutting capacity of 20mm and a lopper that has a 45mm cutting capacity.