Much of the time, pruning is seen as an autumn or winter task, with that being the prime time to prune many ornamental trees and deciduous hedges. However, some plants are more suited to spring and summer pruning, making way for more growth, encouraging their foliage and flowers to bloom. These include some tender shrubs, summer flowering shrubs and ornamental grasses.
So, here is a selection of plants that will appreciate spring or summer pruning:
Weigela are known to be great plants for pollinators, so invite the bees in with these bushy shrubs. Flowering in late spring, these shrubs will appreciate pruning after they’ve flowered. These shrubs flower on the previous season’s growth, therefore cutting them back as soon as they’ve flowered will ensure they are prepared for the following year.
Don’t leave pruning forsythia too late, otherwise you’ll risk losing next year’s cheerful flowers. Once they’ve flowered, around March, prune them immediately to ensure you have beautiful blooms in the following year.
Colourful winter stems
Some of the plants that provide our gardens with some vibrant colour through winter are best pruned in spring. For example, the vibrant fiery stems of Cornus (dogwood) are popular for their winter interest but pruning in March to April has been shown to be most beneficial. By pruning these plants back hard every year, you’ll be encouraging new growth for the following year too.
Ornamental grasses should be cut back from early spring to mid-spring, depending on the type. Deciduous grasses such as Miscanthus should be pruned in spring by removing dead foliage and old flowered stems, whilst ensuring new shoots aren’t cut off.
Evergreen grasses such as pampas grass should be pruned in early spring by cutting out any of the previous year’s stems and leaves. I recommend that you wear gloves to protect your hands and arms from any sharp leaves.
Maintain your beech hedges and keep them looking well-shaped and sophisticated by trimming them in August. It’s important that you don’t disturb nesting birds in hedges, so take care when pruning and if you do miss pruning in August, wait until the following spring to trim the beech.
To make the most of lavender’s fragrant flowers and foliage, you’ll want to care for it in the best possible way. If you leave the plant to it, it’ll become woody and inelegant. To keep it compact and looking its finest trim them annually in the summer, but in spring if your plant is looking a bit unkempt, the foliage can be clipped to make way for new growth.
A favourite in any herb garden, rosemary is an easy to grow, evergreen shrub. Low maintenance due to their little need for pruning, if you do need to prune out any damaged, diseased or dead shoots it’s best to carry this out in mid to late spring.
Wonderful wisteria growing up the front of your home or around a pergola has an impressive impact. These shrubs will need to be pruned twice a year, so ensure you work it into your garden routine to keep these fragrant flowers coming back. January to February is the perfect time for the first prune, leaving a few buds per stem. Then, prune again in July or August to give a formal look to your climber.
Finally, to maximise the amount of fruit grown on your beloved fruit trees, prune them around July. These include apple, pear, peach as well as cherry trees. Pruning by shortening the lead shoot and cutting back the sideshoots will increase the air circulation of the plant. It will also decrease the amount of water that the tree needs, so more of the water can be utilised by the tree to develop fruits.
So, by spring and summer pruning with these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to have flowers galore with plenty of new growth next season.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
My Passion flower, that is 4 years old, has always looked pretty healthy in the winter but this year, it looks absolutely dead. It has covered a compete 5 foot wooden fence and flowered almost non stop last year. Would the frost this year have killed it, or do they only live for a few years. And should I cut off all the old dead bits?