By Candice Appleby

All the rain we have been having of late has bought with it a burst of growth around the garden, which is great! But at times this can lead to unwanted over-hanging limbs, smaller shrubs becoming crowded or just an overall scruffy looking yard. Correct pruning techniques are essential to plant health and growth. Here are some easy soft pruning tips to keep your garden looking sharp, whilst staying healthy.

  1. Pruning cuts should always be placed just above the growth node and done on no more than a 45 degree angle facing away from the node.

2. For larger, over-hanging, branches first take some weight off the branch by pruning off the smaller lower hanging branches. Often, the main branch will spring up out of way and you will avoid excessive pruning that can destroy tree shape.

3. To promote bushier plants, regular tip pruning of soft new growth is the best option. This should be undertaken after flowering and during the growing season.

4. It is best not to prune in winter as the fresh new growth can easily become damaged by frost.

5. If you are pruning to repair broken limbs, or branches attacked by insects (damn grasshoppers!), the branch needs to be pruned back to clean and undamaged wood. Once again, prune close to a limb or node. Infection and dieback can easily occur if the limb is left in a damaged state.

Remember, cuts in tree branches are much similar to a cut on your arm. The wound will provide an entry for bacteria and diseases, and will result in the plant using up lots of energy to heal. Keep pruning cut sizes to the minimum to avoid stress.  I also like to treat the plant with a little Seasol after a prune to say thank you to my plants for being such good sports! Happy gardening!

~ Candice Appleby

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