Monty Don shares tips for pruning roses
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Pruning in spring makes way for more growth and helps to encourage more flowers, foliage and colourful stems on a wide range of plants. Although, it can be difficult to remember the techniques required to do a good job, and it’s hard to know if you’re doing it right. It is important for gardeners to research how to prune each plant before they set about pruning it. Pruning at the wrong time of year, or in the wrong way, can lead to all sorts of problems, not least the plant putting on lots of extra leafy growth at the expense of fruit or flowers. Luckily gardening experts at Gardeners’ World Magazine have shared their top pruning mistakes to avoid.
The gardening experts explained that pruning at the wrong time of year often leads to killing plants.
They said: “Most plants are pruned in winter, when dormant, but there are exceptions.
“Cherry and plum trees, for example, are susceptible to silver leaf disease and should therefore be pruned in summer when the risk of infection is reduced.
“Likewise, most prune flowering shrubs immediately after flowering.
“Grapevines should be pruned only in December and January, otherwise you may cause the plant to bleed sap, which weakens the plant and can eventually kill it.
“By conducting a little research before you start pruning, you can avoid anything from removing the shrub’s flower buds, disease and potential death of your plant.”
Gardeners are also advised to avoid pruning too much as it can lead to roots growing back dead.
The plant pros said: “Pruning removes stems and leaves, which are two main sources of food for the plant – carbohydrates are stored in wood, while leaves produce their own carbohydrates when they photosynthesise.
“Removing too much material at once can result in die back of the roots and it may take several years for the tree to recover.
The experts also explained that if gardeners prune out the lead stem, the plant can go into shock and put on lots of leafy growth at the expense of flowers and fruit.
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So, unless gardeners have been instructed to conduct a “hard prune”, make sure to prune less, more regularly.
Not pruning above a “node” is also a key mistake most gardeners make.
The node is where leaves, buds and shoots emerge from the stem.
The gardening experts said: “You should always cut just above a node, as this prevents ‘die back’ and therefore disease.
“Also, by cutting above a node you can manipulate new stems, leaves or flowers to form in a desired direction, as nodes form on different sides of a stem.”
However, gardeners must not cut too closely above a node as this can damage it.
Aim to avoid leaving more than 1cm above the node as this will leave an unsightly stump, which can’t grow and may therefore die, according to the experts.
Gardeners must also remove the “die back” as many often forget this step.
There are several causes of die back, including bad planting, bad pruning, frost damage and physical damage when the branches rub together.
The gardening pros said: “Sometimes, fungi can invade these dead shoots and cause canker, which spreads to other parts of the plant, potentially weakening it.
“It’s therefore important to prune out die back to prevent disease.”
The last mistake the experts warned to avoid is not pruning at an angle.
The gardening experts said: “When pruning branches it’s important to cut at a downwards angle, so that when it rains water runs quickly off the wound.
“But cutting flat you run the risk of fungal infections entering the plant, as water can pool on the wound and create the perfect conditions for fungi to take hold.”
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