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Learner Gardener How to prune unidentified

Hello I am new to this and wondering if anyone can help me. Is there a general rule when pruning if you don't know what the plant is?
I am total novice but want to learn and I have some plants which are quite small (maybe 30-40cm tall) but they are all twiggy where they lost their leaves over winter and I don't know whether to cut them back or not.
Thanks in advance :smile:



  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,160
    The general rule is to prune shrubs after flowering finishes if it flowers between March and June as these will flower on wood produced in the previous growing season.  If they flower from July onwards it's usually safe to assume they're flowering on that new season's growth.

    If they're not shrubs, but perennials, it's a whole different rule book.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,718
    General rule for shrubs is to prune after flowering. Unless they are a complete mess, I would leave them until they come into leaf and/or flower and get an identification.
  • Ok Thank you, I think I need to do some research as I have no idea what they are
  • I think I'd leave them until you know what they are - much easier to identify them when they have leaves in the Spring.  And just because they're twiggy doesn't mean they necessarily need a prune.  That might just be the way they grow...  if you don't recognise them when they're in leaf, post photos on here and we'll help identify them - and give better advice about pruning.   :) 
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    Some perennials leave twiggy growth over winter. If you wait just a few weeks more you will be able to identify them and then act appropriately.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,053
    if you could supply a photo , it might help.
  • Thanks for all your help. I will post a picture once they start to grow  :)
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,053
    if you can post one now, someone might well recognise it. Worth a try.
  • The other general rule is do the 3 D's. this means remove anything that is Dead, diseased or damaged. Even if this is all you do the plant will look better for it. Usually dead branches (or ends of branches) are a different paler colour the other way to tell is gently scrape some bark if it is brown underneath it is dead, if green leave it alone. 
    AB Still learning

  • If you have a few shrubs I would heartily recommend treating yourself to a book called RHS Pruning Plant by Plant 
    It's paperback and has a fairly robust wipeable cover and is quite small so easy to take outside.  I use mine all the time; it has very helpful diagrams on each plant and lots of useful tips. I'd say £7.50 well spent!
    No longer newish but can't think of a new name so will remain forever newish.  B)

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