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Why, when and how to prune


March 17, 2024


The Searles Gardening Team

Taking the mystery out of pruning helps to release some of the anxiety that many gardeners feel when it comes time to prune. The first thing to consider is why you are pruning. It should be to shape the plant, remove damaged parts, encourage more growth, or thin the plant to increase the airflow.

General rules to pruning

• Cut out all dead, dying or diseased branches

• Always prune after the plant has finished flowering or fruiting so as not to remove potential flowers

• Cut on an angle so water does not puddle on the pruned stem and possibly introduce fungal disease

• Make a clean, crisp cut, and do not tear away and splinter the remaining branch

• Always clean tools before and after pruning so any pest or disease is not transferred to other plants

• Always prune above a bud as that is the growing point for it to reshoot, if cut too far above a bud, it will die back to the bud and become unsightly

• General rule to pruning: cut no more than 1/3 of the length of the branch at a time

• Remove all pruned plant material and do not leave around the base of the plant

• If in doubt, use sterile planting paint to cover large wounds

• Use the appropriate tool. Secateurs are not designed to cut thick branches so if it is wider than your finger, you will need a different tool

• Prune hedges regularly so they remain green and thick rather than seasonally, where they may appear sparse and stickie

• If you prune during the heat of summer, the lower leaves may burn slightly as they have not had direct sunlight before

• Some plants do not cope well with pruning, such as Book leaf pine trees

• Indoor plants may need pruning but not as regularly as outdoor plants

After pruning, consider light fertilising and a fortnightly application of Seamax Organic Fertiliser; this will encourage new growth. Don't be afraid to prune, and it is not always in the winter. If you are genuinely concerned, a light prune and fertiliser will invigorate fresh shoots, and then a month later, prune down to the new shoots.