Learn about pruning with expert advice from the RHS

Shrub pruning

Pruning late-summer and autumn flowering shrubs in spring will keep their growth in check and improve flowering.

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  • Enjoy two flushes of flowers from Clematis 'Kaen' with proper pruning. Credit: RHS/Tim Sandall.

    Clematis pruning: group two

    Regular pruning of clematis encourages strong growth and flowering and keeps the growth in check. Left unpruned, clematis can turn into a mass of tangled stems with a bare base and flowers well above eye level. Clematis in pruning group two are the large-flowered hybrids that flower in May to June and should be pruned in late winter or early spring and after the first flush of flowers in summer.

  • Clematis slime flux

    Clematis problems: frequently asked questions

    Clematis is one of the most popular climbing plants, its showy flowers giving an eye-catching display. It is usually an easy plant to grow, but can have an aura of mystery surrounding two items in particular: first, when and how to prune the plant, and second, a problem of shoots wilting and dying back. There are also a few other problems to look out for.

  • Tieing in clematic stems

    Clematis: pruning

    Regular pruning of clematis encourages strong growth and flowering and keeps the growth in check. If left unpruned, clematis can turn into a mass of tangled stems with bare base and flowers well above eye level.

  • Wisteria is a good option to train against a wall. Image: RHS

    Climbers and wall shrubs

    Climbing plants and wall shrubs cover walls, fences, unsightly features, arches, obelisks and pergolas. True climbers take up little ground space, and are excellent choices for smaller gardens, whereas wall shrubs require more ground space. Popular plants are: clematis, roses, wisteria and honeysuckle.

  • Training a climber. Image: John Trentholm/RHS

    Climbers and wall shrubs: pruning established plants

    Knowing how to keep climbers and wall shrubs in shape will prevent them becoming a bushy or straggly mess. Pruning at the right time of year will result in a good display the following flowering season. Such plants fall into RHS Pruning groups 11, 12 and 13.

  • Clematis can out-grow their space, but are possible to renovate with pruning. Credit: RHS/Tim Sandall.

    Climbers: renovating overgrown plants

    Climbers and wall shrubs can become overgrown, extending over the top of the fence or into nearby trees, often with reduced flowering. Many can be hard-pruned to renovate them, but some are best replaced.

  • Tying in a climber. Credit:Neil Hepworth/RHS The Garden.

    Climbers: training and pruning on planting

    Climbing plants can quickly clothe a fence or wall. Careful training and pruning on first planting will help ensure that a climber grows attractively and healthily, covering the wall efficiently and remaining easy to maintain. 

  • Conifers

    Conifer care

    Conifers are trees with unique scale-like leaves or needles and their seed-bearing cones are easily recognised. They are mostly evergreen and can grow into large, often very fast-growing trees, although there are many dwarf varieites, including many effective groundcover plants. Many conifers make good hedges too. Yew is a conifer with small cones with a fleshly covering. Gingko is also a conifer, but its triangular leaves are clearly different and like yew its cones (on female plants) also have a fleshy covering.

  • Winter stems of Cornus


    Coppicing is a pruning technique where a tree or shrub is cut to ground level, resulting in regeneration of new stems from the base. It is commonly used for rejuvenating and renovating old shrubs.

  • ©RHS WSYD0011087


    Flowering Cornus (dogwood) trees are grown for their showy coloured bracts in late spring and early summer. Shrubby Cornus alba, C. sericea and C. sanguinea are grown for their vivid winter stem colour, while shrubby C.mas (the cornelian cherry) is grown for its winter flowers and summer fruits. This varied group of plants give great garden value.

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