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The ''Don't Panic" Pruning Article

By Helen Wand


Now I don’t propose to write a huge tome covering the entire plant kingdom and sending you to sleep! I’ll cover just a few basic tips and helpful hints.

Firstly, there are a lot of myths in gardening, especially in the art of pruning. My basic philosophy is; firstly, don’t panic at the apparently huge project that faces you! Remember that there are only a few things that you can actually kill by pruning. The worst you can probably do is to make a plant or tree that was once beautiful seriously ugly!

In my experience the autumn or winter is the best time to prune as most species are dormant then, and in my case more importantly, it’s when I’ve actually got some time to do it!

Let’s start with roses as rose pruning probably causes the most panic for most people.

Take your time, enjoy your pruning – gardening is supposed to be fun, isn’t it?


Stage 1. Begin by cutting out all the dead wood.


Stage 2. Then open out the centre of the plant, removing any tangled or crossing over branches. This allows air to circulate, thus reducing bug and disease problems.


Stage 3. You should reduce the remaining stems by at least one third. Using a pair of good quality, sharp secateurs, make a clean cut on an outward facing bud located between the leaf axel and the stem of the plant.

Stage 4. Now, it’s time to remove those suckers! No, not the human kind, but the ones which grow from below ground from the original base rose that your variety has been grafted on to. Pull these suckers off (rather than cut) from below ground. If you don’t bother to do this your rose will ‘revert’ and become something a little wild and woolly and not what you ordered from the nurseryman!


Stage 5. Finally, before we go on to other things, rake up and remove any old leaves to prevent the spread of diseases.

Now, a word about trees: -

Firstly if it’s a really big job, or likely to knock part of your house down if it falls the wrong way, do you have the experience to do it yourself? If the genuine answer is, probably not, then call in an expert tree surgeon. If nothing else, they can give you advice as to how to go about your project and whether or not the tree is actually worth saving. To me, there is nothing sadder than the diseased cherry trees that you often see in suburban gardens with all their limbs chopped down to stumps! Many flowering cherries have a finite life of about 25 to 30 years. After that they succumb to disease and the only solution is to have it out and plant another one, replacing a large part of the surrounding soil at the same time.

So on that happy note I’ll wish you happy snipping!

By Helen Wand
The Organic Veg Doc ._







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