One aspect of plant care that often causes a few headaches is pruning. How and when it should be done varies from plant to plant, and if done improperly can harm your plants or delay your flowering or fruiting time.

Here are a few basic tips so you can enjoy your flowers, fruit and even your pruning:

First things first …

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

 I am a tool fanatic, and proper pruning is impossible without the right tools.

Secateurs

They are used for the young and thinner branches and always should be sharp to avoid tearing and splitting twigs and branches.

Lopper or long-handled secateurs

They give you more strength to cut thicker branches, and also give you added leverage to reach way into bushy shrubs or up into a tree.

Pruning saw

For the thick branches or trees or older shrubs.

Hedging shears

For the pruning and shaping of formal hedges and topiaries, or general trimming of shrubs.

All these tools should be kept sharp so that they will cut cleanly and easily. It is also good practice to wash all these tools after use with soapy water and to sterilise them by wiping it with ethanol. This prevents the spread of pests and diseases in your garden. Always dry thoroughly after cleaning to prevent rust and grease all the moving parts.

Pruning tips for al shrubs, roses and fruit trees

1. Remove all dead, diseased or broken twigs and branches;

2. Remove water sprouts, suckers and crossing branches;

3. Remove all crowded and crossing growth that doesn’t allow air circulation (especially when in full foliage);

There is one basic rule for shrubs, climbers or groundcover and succulents that only flower once a year: they need to be pruned or trimmed immediately after flowering has stopped.

In autumn and winter, you should prune back the following shrubs after flowering:

Plumbago, Barleria spp., Lavender bushes, Leonotis, Senecio spp., Thrachelospermum jasminoides, and Hydrangeas.

Hydrangeas need to be pruned mid-July, and you need to prune one- third of the plant back.

Roses and fruit trees (deciduous fruit trees) also needs pruning in their dormant season. With roses half to two- thirds of the branches needs to be pruned back. Always cut above an outward-facing node.

Bonsai and formal hedges need regular pruning or trimming to keep their shape.

Pruning encourages new growth, helps manage the size of plants, promotes better blooms and fruit, and also healthier plants. After pruning, remember to give your plants a good mulch which will help your plants with that extra “vooma” when new growth starts.

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