The Winter Prune

Round & About

People say to me ‘It must be nice to have the winter off….’ Well it is actually one of the busiest times for horticulturists as it’s pruning season.

It is a challenge to identify the plants, know how they are pruned and then carry it out. Cathie has some advice for those brave enough to venture out!

Plant Identification

Wisteria is obvious, most people are aware that theyhave one clambering up the front of the house. Apple trees can be more tricky but generally the big ones are pruned in the Winter whereas the trained ones are Summer pruned to reduce vigour. Roses are almost impossible but for pruning it’s essential to know as you could inadvertently cut all the flowers off!

Where to start

Wisteria: Take all the long bits out and any dead. Untangle from wires, phone lines , drainpipes and take out of gutters. It’s essential to have a good support system to tie the branches too and remember that any long wispy bits are future branches so keep them to a minimum.

Apples: Remove any congested branches, reduce long extension growths and take out anything dead and remove old fruit. Try to learn the difference between a fruiting bud and a leaf bud. It’s also important to know whether your tree produces fruit at the end of a stem (tip bearer) or on short stems (spur bearer)

Roses: Remove any dead, weak, diseased and congested stems. If you do nothing else this will help. Try to ascertain whether your rose is a climber or a rambler, a bush or a shrub or an old fashioned type as they are all pruned differently.

The Prune

Wisteria: February, reduce the shoots to a short spur and keep it simple! Try to only keep a few main branches or you will be overwhelmed with growth. Nothing looks tidier than a professionally pruned Wisteria in the Winter followed by gorgeous blooms in late Spring. Wisteria are high maintenance and need pruning at lease twice a year.

Apples: Identify the fluffy fruit buds from the flat leaf ones and reduce the vegetative growth to encourage the flowers and fruit. Try to open up the centre of the tree to allow in light and air. Annual pruning ensures a healthier tree and good quality fruit.

Roses: Can be cut back harder that you think to encourage vigour. Climbing roses can be pruned so all side shoots that have flowered to a short spur. Rambling roses are pruned after flowering in the summer. If you know whether you rose is a bush or shrub variety they can be pruned accordingly. Cut just above a bud at a light angle to encourage healing. Pencil thickness is a good rule of thumb.

Cathie’s Gardening School Services now taking bookings for Spring

  1. Horticultural consultancy teaching you in your own garden.
  2. Cathie’s Garden Army of horticulturists to transform your garden following a consultancy
  3. Don’t leave it too late to book in your Winter pruning session!

Email [email protected] for more info on Cathie’s Gardening School

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