Kate Hardy

Prune your summer plants

Kate Hardy

Pruning, tidying and scaling back - all jobs perfect for the summer months!

The hazy days of midsummer are just wonderful – this time of year evokes scenes of hammocks, the lazy buzz of a bee, perhaps a Pimms on the lawn… that’s if the weather holds up, of course. Fingers crossed! 

However, now’s the time gardeners need to step up and get active, attending to various parts of the garden in terms of pruning, scaling back and tidying up. No rest for the wicked, as they say…

There are lots of reasons to prune – to keep shrubs in shape and at a good size, encourage better growth next year and to keep plants healthy and disease free. Spring-flowering shrubs such as jasmine and forsythia will need a light clip back to promote more flowers in years to come and lessen the gangly stems, too. 

Similarly, honeysuckle will benefit from a trim back after flowering – cut it by a third to shape and improve future blooming.

Many of you who have accidentally pruned some trees a little too late in early spring, will have noticed rising sap oozing from the pruning cuts, meaning they’ve come out of dormancy. This can be detrimental and decrease vigour in plants such as hornbeam, walnut and birch, so you’re best pruning them now or in winter to avoid this. Bleeding sap can be good for some plants, though, such as cherries, meaning disease such as silver leaf can be got rid of and ooze out of the tree at the same time. There’s time to still prune those now, too.

In general, cut above an outward facing, healthy bud and trim up to a third. Remove damaged stems and in young trees, trim back long, gangly growth.

Fruiting plants such as pears and apples, ornamental and otherwise, will benefit from a bit more light and air available to the fruits as they ripen. On many plants, trimming back sappy foliage means it will need less water overall to thrive – great for hot, dry days.

Wisteria needs pruning to within two or three leaves, and general cutting of sappy growth, more to keep it in check than anything. Tie in long stems, but cut back side shoots a little – you’ll notice a difference in its flowering.

So, get out there with your secateurs and shears and get trimming!

3... holiday plant watering aids

1 Self-watering planters

Expensive, but they do the job – hoarding water over summer. Perfect as raised beds, buy from www.garden4me.co.uk  

2 Watering cones

Inserted into the soil near the roots, with a plastic bottle attached, they gradually release water over 1-2 weeks. From Homebase

3 Bottle top dripper kit

A system where you can hang a plastic drinks bottle full of water with a drip cap to slowly water plants while you’re on holiday. www.garden-innovations.co.uk 

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