Late Winter & Early Spring Pruning Guide

Late winter is the ideal time to prune many types of deciduous trees, shrubs, and vines. Pruning fruit trees, roses and other shrubs in spring promotes faster regrowth in summer. It’s also much easier to prune when there is no foliage. The objective of pruning is largely twofold: encourage growth of more flowering laterals, and stimulate production of new canes.  We prune to remove any dead and diseased shoots, cut the plant back by two thirds and remove small and very old shoots. Here are some of our tried and tested pruning tips.

1. Always do your pruning with a sharp tool

Pruning cuts should always be clean and sharp – ragged cuts are subject to infection. It is well worthwhile investing in a good pair of secateurs and making sure you keep them sharpened.

2. Always cut back to something

In other words, cut back to a bud, even if it is a lot lower on the plant than you would like. If you leave a length of branch or stem above a bud, it will die back to the next bud anyway and there is a much greater risk of disease getting into the plant.  It is essential to prune to an outward-facing eye, while preference can be given to the most promising eye. Make the cut at a 45 degrees angle, so that water cannot collect on it. And the angle always away from the bud, so it has enough growth base on the stem.

3. Hard pruning promotes vigorous growth

The more severely you cut back, the stronger will be the new growth. By hard pruning you will ensure healthy growth with abundant flowers. Roses, for instance, bloom on the new growth, thus the stronger the stems, the stronger the new growth, the more flowers will develop!

Leave only 1 to 5 strong shoots and preferably those that shoot from out the soil. Try to take off at least a third of the stem. Cut out all twiggy growth which is thinner than a pencil and remove the weakest growth. When pruning standards, the basic guidelines apply, with the accent on symmetry. After pruning, the head should have no stems extending beyond a dome-shaped outline.

Pruning of Roses 

  • Seal wounds with a sealant like Steriseal and spray the plant after pruning with  Kumulus, Sk Eco Oil spray or Oleum.
  • We recommend fertilizing with 1 for all fertilizer once a month and add a thick layer of mulch to discourage weeds and save on water.
  • If you find your rose plant is not situated in the perfect spot in the garden, late winter is the best time to transplant roses before the new growth begins.

Pruning of Fruit trees

Unlike roses, the fruit will be beared on the older branches.  So try not to cut back to many of the new growth on the older branches, but rather take out the branches that grow inside the cup-shaped outer branches. This will encourage the tree to form a cup shape to let enough sunlight into the tree thus producing healthy fruit. The idea is to let enough space between the branches for a pigeon to pass through. This way all the fruit bearing branches will receive efficient sunlight.