Pruning Trees and Shrubs in Mid Spring
If you were unable to finish pruning the roses in early spring, you should do so in the first week of this season. In all but cold districts, shoots and leaves will be developing fast; pruning once the plant is growing again weakens it. Those with chilly gardens will not normally expect to prune roses until now in any case, but wherever your garden is, be guided by the stage of growth the bushes have reached. Pruning just as the buds begin to swell is a good time, although, if you have a lot of roses, you may have to start earlier, in order to get round them all before it is too late.
Any of the winter-flowering shrubs which were not pruned in early spring should be dealt with early this season, also the late-summer-flowering kinds as listed. In addition the following can now be pruned; they include some of the more tender species and some evergreens, as well as the early-spring-flowering shrubs and less hardy, late-summer-flowering subjects.
If in doubt about pruning any shrub, mid-spring is usually safe; although many do not need annual pruning, they do occasionally, every five years or so, need cutting to a better shape, restricting to the space provided instead of overflowing it and dead, ailing, crowded or stunted shoots cleared out.
This tends to become rather leggy and awkwardly shaped, so it should be cut back by about half towards the end of mid-spring, every few years, instead of pruning later, after flowering. However, in cold districts this may kill it, and it would be better to start again from rooted.
Cut some of the oldest shoots down to the ground so that the remainder have more air and light; also cut some other shoots down to the origin of strong one-year-old growth, but wait until flowering has finished before pruning. Do all this occasionally.
Broom (Cytisus battandieri)
Regular pruning is not necessary, but occasional cutting back of straggling shoots and branches in mid-spring will improve its appearance.
Camellia (japonica types)
If space has been outgrown by rather elderly specimens, cut back by about half or a little more; any other pruning is not necessary. These shrubs are amongst the best for arranging themselves in a shapely way and producing a mass of flowers. They are hardy enough to withstand several degrees of frost at least and can be covered in icicles without harm to the leaves or shoots.
Prune those with a wall backing them in mid-spring — if the weather is not cold — by cutting back strong-flowered shoots to leave about 30cm (12in) of stem. They also tend to grow a lot of short, weak, crossing shoots which do not flower and clutter up the bush, so these should be removed as well.
Currant, flowering (ribes)
No regular pruning; prune to shape every few years and cut out old shoots to just above strong young shoots.
Daisy bush (Olearia haastii)
Can be trimmed with the shears in mid-spring or cut back hard if you want the bush to put out a lot of new growth.
Specimen bushes should have some of the flowered shoots cut back after flowering, to newly growing stems. If the bush is rather thick and overgrown in spite of this, the oldest shoots can be cut right down to the ground and others cut hard to let in light and air. Wall-grown forsythias, such as Forsythia suspensa, need regular pruning every spring; the flowered shoots are cut back to a stub 5 or 7.5cm (2 or 3in) long.
By now most fuchsias will be showing some signs of life and dead shoots and dead shoot tips will be obvious; these should be removed and remaining side-shoots cut back to one or two pairs of dormant buds. Weak shoots should be cut right off.
Heather (calluna and Erica cornea in variety)
If not already done in early spring, trim off the flowered shoots with shears, annually for calluna, alternate years for the ericas.
Being evergreen, hebes must be treated with care. Prune every three years or so, late in mid-spring or in late spring, if they are outgrowing their space or getting leggy.
Pruning is usually not needed, but if they are getting too large, they can be pruned hard, by half their growth, early in mid-spring.
If pruning were not done at the end of early spring, it can be done early in this season by cutting off the old-flower-heads to just above a pair of good buds, removing some of the oldest shoots completely, and thinning out the new shoots, again to ground level. Alternatively, pruning can be done every few years, cutting the whole bush back to stubs with one or two buds on them. Ivy Rarely needs any treatment, but if it is colonizing too much, trimming can be done now.
Cut back last season’s shoots to within a couple of centimetres (about an inch) of their origin. Lavender tends to become leggy within a few years and should be replaced, but as it roots easily from cuttings this is no problem.
Lavender cotton (santolina)
This can be cut back hard once a year, in spring, to just above the new growth which will be appearing by now. Alternatively, it can be trimmed two or three times in the growing season to keep it tidy.
Mahonia japonica need not be pruned at all unless one of the main stems is getting rather leggy, in which case it can be cut lower down and new shoots will come from the base to fill the gap. Normally, however, it grows into a leafy, rounded shrub. M. aquifolium does not need pruning;
Charity can have one of its main stems cut down to near ground level if getting too tall as it produces shoots from the base without any fuss.
A fast-growing shrub, so cut back low down on each main shoot to where new growth is beginning to appear.
If it is wall-trained and has got rather large and untidy, it can be cut back hard into shape, though there will not be any flowers for the coming season.
Romneya (Californian poppy)
Being on the tender side, this may well have had all its stems killed during winter, but if not, they should be cut down practically to ground level. It will grow well again and can be regarded somewhat in the same way as herbaceous peonies.
Rue (Ruta graveolens)
Last year’s growth can be cut back hard, close to its base, so that it produces as much of its grey-blue ferny foliage as possible.
Cut back towards the end of mid-spring, removing last year’s growth to leave stubs. It is not essential to do all this every year; you can get away with simply cutting off straggling stems, those that are outgrowing the space and those lying on the ground. The latter will provide new plants as they will probably have rooted.
Remove all dead leaves every year at this time.