Guest Post from Mr McGregor of Notcutts

Today I'm delighted to bring you Mr McGregor’s Guide to Pruning!

Pruning is an essential part of a plant’s growth and removing parts of the plant that are no longer required and early training is all in a day’s work. It’s extremely important to remove weak or dead shoots to improve the plant’s development and retain a healthy and pleasant looking garden.

Now that we know why it’s important to prune back plants, you need to know what techniques to employ and the tools required to carry out the job. Over the years I have learnt a great deal about when and how you should prune certain flowers. Some varieties need occasional pruning in hope they will grow into a well shaped specimen, whereas others require a lower maintenance, annual prune.

There are many traditional tools and techniques you can get to grips with. The main tools to acquire include an assortment of secateurs (Scissor, Bypass and Anvil), saws (Combination Pole Saw Pruner and Pruning Saw F600) and lopper shears (Scissor and Hedge). The size of tool is determined by the size of the job and plant.

When it comes to traditional techniques, you’re sure to come across these terms:
• Hedging Back: This will primarily increase the density of the plant and can make it sturdier
• Thinning: Use this technique to accomplish a taller and more open plant
• Pinching: This is employed during the growing season to prevent future pruning , increase the plant’s density and more importantly to redirect growth – very useful when you have space or two to fill
• Shearing: Cutting back plants with hedge shears.

Many shrubs benefit from an annual pruning as this retains health, shape and balance and ensures vigorous growth. When it comes to evergreens you may need to tidy them from time to time. Removing dead, damaged or diseased wood and light shaping is all that’s required and can be accomplished using secateurs.

We all love Clematis plants with most of us having at least two or three variations/hybrids in our garden. They can flower on last season’s stems or ones produced during the flowering season. To obtain early flowering I suggest you leave the old stems intact. However, if you wish to promote new growth prune back old growth from the previous year. I also advise anyone who has recently planted Clematis to prune it back to a healthy pair of buds that sit 30cm above ground level.

Tips: Pruning Cuts

• Make all cuts clean and smooth
• When removing large branches try to avoid tearing the bark
• Choose branches that form an angle of no more than 45 degrees
• Bear in mind the position of the last pair of buds determines the direction the new shoot will grow
• It is advisable to cut back each stem to a bud or branch
• When removing limbs that grow upward, make a slanting cut.

Mr McGregor is a writer for Notcutts, an online gardening store who specialise in all things horticultural. As an enthusiastic gardener, Mr McGregor loves to share his experiences and advise, retaining a regular blog spot on the Notcutts blog.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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