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Cutting back buddleja davidii - advice please

I have a couple of mature buddleja davidii shrubs which make over 3m in height every year.

I usually hack them back by about a third at this time of year - partly to tidy them, partly to stop them self seeding and partly to avoid wind damage or wind rock in the winter gales. I  coppice them properly to 0.75 to 1.0m in early March as is usually recommended. That's when I pay more attention to ensuring everything is cut back properly to buds, removing dead and misplaced branches etc.

Am I giving myself double the workload?

I definitely want to cut them in autumn for the reasons given. Does anybody know if there's any good reason to not do the proper coppicing / pruning now and save myself the job in spring?

The only thing I can think of is if that they might produce new growth in a mild spell which could get nipped by the frost - but I can soon whip that off in spring.

Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
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  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,179
    I don't think it would matter massively, other than the fact that you might get an even bigger shrub eventually, next year. 
    I do mine in a slightly tiered way, but they're part of the boundary, and  against a fence, rather than stand alone shrubs, so it matter less. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Completely agree with Fairygirl. I have in the past done the staggered pruning but I'm in an area that's fairly sheltered so I tend to just hack it back now and remove any unwanted growth later. 
    I do notice more spindly growth if I cut back now and not in the spring but it depends on the individual bush as some stay well behaved. 
  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 11,251
    I tend to do the same as you @Topbird, but then we have fairly brutal Autumn and Winter weather.
    He calls her the chocolate girl
    Cause he thinks she melts when he touches her
    She knows she's the chocolate girl
    Cause she's broken up and swallowed
    And wrapped in bits of silver
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 6,980
    Mine are the same @Fairygirl - part of a screen of shrubs in front of the boundary fence. It wouldn't matter if they wanted to be a bit bigger/ taller next year. To be honest I often give the buddlejas and elders a bit of a summer prune if they're getting a bit too big for their boots.

    I just wondered if there was a reason why the perceived wisdom is to cut back in spring rather than autumn? I have more than enough jobs to do in spring....
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 6,980
    Sorry @thevictorianzFH0qqPW  you weren't there when I last posted🙂 Interesting what you say about the spindly growth.

    Mine are also fairly sheltered but they can get bashed about by the wind if they're allowed to stay very tall over winter.

    @punkdoc - do you give yours a second 'proper prune' in spring as well or just the autumn one? 
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,179
    edited November 2021
    I do prune in spring, but only because they'd be huge if I didn't, and then I'd struggle to deadhead and keep the flowers coming because I'd be trampling other planting too much. They got left a bit too much one year, and it was a right royal PITA.
    Since they flower on new wood, they'd be massive if they were only done in autumn. 

    Mine are relatively well protected from the wind because I have a double sided fence, about 5 foot-ish. I usually hack back to about the fence height in September/October, then do them in April, cutting the fronts back harder than the back, if that makes sense, to get the tiered effect. I cut mine much further than a metre though.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 6,980
    You do your spring prune later than me @Fairygirl - but I guess your spring is a tad later than mine😁 

    I have cut them really hard back in the past but then seemed to wait ages for them to be tall enough to screen us from the neighbours - so I'm a bit less brutal these days. Will give the tiered method a try though - sounds rather nice, thank you.

    I know what you mean about them getting too tall for deadheading but (me being a bit of a lazy mare) that almost seems like a good reason to let them get really tall - a ready made excuse not to😎
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,179
    Yes - March is too early here. I made the mistake of doing it then one year, fairly recently, when we had very benign weather. Just had to reprune it all later  ;)

    I like to get my money's worth re the flowers, so I do like to deadhead as much as I can. Also, just because they're great for the butterflies, and we often don't get Red Admirals until August here, so I like plenty for them. They can be a bit sparse by then if I don't keep snipping...
    Being a short arse, I'd need the ladders to get the ones that are too high up, so the tiering helps with that too  :D
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 11,251
    Yes I hack a bit off in October and then a proper prune in March.
    He calls her the chocolate girl
    Cause he thinks she melts when he touches her
    She knows she's the chocolate girl
    Cause she's broken up and swallowed
    And wrapped in bits of silver
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 6,980
    OK - thanks everyone. That's all given me food for thought.

    I'm at least reassured that I'm not being completely stupid doing this job twice over.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
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