Why prune and what does it do?  Pruning is carried out for a few reasons: it encourages plants to stay bushy, is great at promoting more flower and fruit, and can be a useful tool in treating disease.  The trick is to know what to prune and when…winter is the perfect time to prune many plants, so it’s time to get chopping!

  •  Hedges can be kept tidy and trim now with an all over haircut, but if you’re cutting back severely into a shrubbery, you’re better off waiting will the end of winter when you can have a faster recovery, like August.
  • If you’re planning on crown lifting or crown thinning your trees, to allow more sunshine in underneath and through their canopies, winter is also a great time to prune.
  • Prune many deciduous fruiting trees like plums, apricots, apples and peaches. For these, the type of pruning you’re doing will very likely be formative pruning, encouraging an open vase shape that allows sun into all the branches, and therefore creating more flowers and fruit.
  • Roses should be pruned into an open, vase shape allows maximum sun into the plant and therefore more blooms. The removal of about 1/3 of growth from the top of the bushes encourages new suckers, which in turn have more flowers.  It is also a great time to remove any diseased wood, or branches that are crossing or overlapping.  Pruning climbing roses should be done after flowering, however, as Banksia roses and many other early flowering roses can otherwise be clipped short of their flowering time!
  • If you’re growing annuals, pinch prune them now to make them bushier and bloom more in spring.
  • Other plants that can do with a winter trim include wattles (after flowering), conifers, topiary and camellias after they finish blooming.

Once you’re pruned, make the most of those clippings by turning them into compost, and run them through the mulcher.  Regardless of the plant, always make sure your secateurs and clean, sharp and the right size for the job.  If you’re trimming branches thicker than a pencil thickness, you’re probably best using long handled pruners that give you more purchase. 


By: Meredith Kirton