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When some shrubs are pruned hard, they regrow vigorously producing more colourful stems that brighten up the garden in winter. Others can also be hard-pruned to create a large-leaved effect. These methods, when applied to trees, are often called coppicing and pollarding, but when applied to small shrubs the term ‘stooling’ is commonly used. Such plants fall into RHS Pruning group 7.
Pruning a willow can produce vibrant stems that look good in winter.
These plants are hard pruned for the following effects;
Late winter (February) or early spring (March), before the leaves begin to appear on the stems, is traditionally considered the best time to prune. However, to allow the maximum time to enjoy colourful stems, shrubby Cornus and willows are now typically pruned from late March to mid-April, just as the new growth is developing.
Plant roots and shoots are in balance and, after hard pruning, plants will regrow to re-establish this balance. It is important to prune in the dormant season as the plant resources are largely in the roots and can be used for the required vigorous regrowth. If pruned in summer, plant resources - which, by this time, are predominantly found in the leaves - will be removed, and regrowth will be less strong.
Young plants need to establish for a year or two before you start hard-pruning. After that you can prune as follows:
In dry summers, water the plants to ensure good growth, otherwise the display of stems will be affected in winter.
Cloud pruningCoppicingCornusExotic and subtropical gardeningLiving structures: creating and maintainingPollardingPlants for winter interestRHS Pruning groupsShrubs: pruning early-floweringShrubs: pruning evergreensShrubs: pruning summer-floweringTrees and shrubs: colourful foliageTrees and shrubs: variegated foliageTrees and shrubs with attractive bark
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