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Garden Notes by Christine Windle

Pruning – Cuts that Count
Pruning is a gardening task which helps to shape, renew, invigorate, protect, and promote flowers and fruit. Timing is important, with the general rule being to prune after flowering for evergreen plants and during the dormant winter period for deciduous plants.

I love the slash and kerbash that secateurs, pruning saws and long handle cutters provide. I have been accused of going too far when the family looks at a large shrub which is now only a metre high. Others I know are so timid with their pruning that they may as well have stayed inside reading a book. The secret is to make pruning purposeful, so you have a rationale to control your instincts and inform your cuts.

Be aware of your plant’s growth habit. Some plants, such as English lavenders, won’t recover if you prune below green growth. Prune lightly from an early stage so that new low growth is constantly stimulated. Other plants, such as Allard’s lavender, produce new growth from old wood and can be pruned low. Never prune a plant below the graft.

Some Basic Pruning Tips
1.  Use sharp tools and select the right sized implement for the job. Clean tools between plants if there is a risk of spreading disease.

2.  Cut out dead and diseased wood and any branches that cross over or rub against others. 

3.  Lots of shrubs and trees just need a tidy up and a tip prune to promote bushiness.

4.  To shape a plant, look for a bud pointing in the direction you want the branch to grow. Cut on a 450 diagonal immediately above the bud.

5.  When pruning a branch where it joins, cut just outside the branch collar rather than hard up against the trunk. . Large branches need to be undercut so that the bark won’t tear down if the weight of the branch drags it down. 

6.  Plants can flower or fruit on old wood, new wood or two year old wood. Roses flower on new wood, so prune hard to promote lots of new growth. Peaches and nectarines fruit on two year old wood so cut a third of the laterals back hard each year. Apples fruit on spurs along the trunk and old branches as well as on two year old wood, so the pruning focus is on shape.

7.  Prune to allow air and sunlight to penetrate your fruit trees. Prune Citrus trees a metre up from the ground to avoid humidity and fungal diseases.

8.  Keep fruiting branches to an angle of about 650 from the trunk, to allow for the weight of the fruit.

9.  Small cuts do not need any wound treatment. It is now generally thought that large cuts do better if left unsealed, allowing the plant’s natural defences to come into play.

10.  Winter pruning of fruit trees stimulates vigorous new growth. Summer pruning promotes less vigorous growth and keeps the trees smaller.

We are holding an Orchard Pruning Workshop at our nursery – Sunday July 17th, 9 – 12.30, $35, theory and guided practice with vase shaped trees in our orchard. Morning tea and notes included. 

Bookings:  0403 267 286. 

Happy gardening, Christine and Keith Windle, 

Garden Gate of Inverleigh Nursery,  0403 267 286     cnr Winchelsea Rd and McCallum Rd, Inverleigh, 3321