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Golden rule

CiaCia Posts: 153

What is the golden rule as to when to prune plants ? I heard somewhere that if a plant flowers in spring you prune it -- and i cant remember the rest. And also visa versa -- if a plant flowers in later summer months -- you prune in spring???????


Could someone please correct me.image



  • Jean GenieJean Genie Posts: 1,724

    Hi Cia , I still find pruning a bit of a mystery but I know that if a plant or shrub flowers in Spring you should prune it after it has finished flowering . Any later and you will miss out on next years flowers . I usually cut back by about a third and follow the one in three rule with the older stems. I must admit to reading my R. H. S. book at for advice at times . I've only just got to grips with Clematis pruning but I'm sure there are more friendly people on the forum who will help and know a lot more than me !

  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    It very much depends why you are pruning? Are you wishing to contain a plant that is rather too big for its site? Do you want to encourage flowering and / or fruiting?   Plants in the wild don't get pruned and they survive, so really, unless you go totally wild you can't kill anything with a bit of pruning.  Indeed, to prune after flowering is a good rule, of thumb, knowing whether the plant does whatever you want it to do on new or old wood is a good idea, i cut off my lilac flowers for ages before i realised I was doing it too late - poor thing, i gave it all sorts of abuse because it didn't flower, and it was my fault.  Stick to one set of guidelines, too many books will confuse you and then the plant - they are very forgiving, and want to grow, so any mistakes will correct themselves in due course. 

  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    And remember that not everything needs to be pruned - some shrubs prefer to be left alone.

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114

    Just remember that 'Growth follows the knife'.  So ask yourself why you are pruning, because sometimes you can make the problem worse.  For example you may want to cut back a shrub and four new shoots may come where there was one before!

  • I tend to prune when the plants get untidy or overgrown. Sill find it a mystery as you do jean. Buddlias are supposed to be cut back in spring but i tend to chop them in the autumn when i put the garden to bed for the winter. My huge Honeysuckle had a maasive hair cut last year as it had got very woody, this year its beautiful masses of flowers. Go with your gut feelings i reckon.

  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    One golden rule-if it doub't -don't .

  • Jean GenieJean Genie Posts: 1,724

    Maud - your honeysuckle is flowering ? I've not got any yet !

  • CiaCia Posts: 153

    Wow thank you for your responses.

    The pruning was mainly to keep the plant in check in the winnering months when heavy snow could damage foliage. Also to get the most out of the plant and keep it in good health so it delivers the best possible show for me.image


    My main shrubs are Vibernan (gorgeous scent) and buddelias - i cant get enough of them. The other bushes in my garden get the chop when i decide they are taking over more than they should.


    I have a cherry blossom of which dosnt fruit that puts on a wonderful blossom dispaly for me. I pruned this in spring  - cutting into a goblet like shape so air circulates and keeps disease at bay. It will need a trim before winter and its got very high. I was thinking maybe an autumn haircut for it.


    I like the saying "growth follows the knife"



  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    Cherry blossom and cherries should be pruned in summer, Cia - you are at serious risk of introducing fungal diseases and killing it if you prune at other times of the year.

    Also, cherry blossom and fruiting cherry are separate plants - cherry blossom doesn't produce fruit, whatever you do, and doesn't need to be shaped like a fruiting cherry.

  • CiaCia Posts: 153

    Oh really i was told spring was a good time. Thank you i will trim it back shortly this summer - when it arrives that is. image


    Another question - when the frost kills off perenials - should i leave the trimming back and tidying up till the warmer weather arrives - say spring?



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