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Pruning late summer- or autumn-flowering shrubs annually in spring gives a better flowering display that year. Pruning also keeps growth in check and improves overall plant health. Such plants fall into RHS Pruning group 6.
This advice is suitable for any deciduous shrub that flowers from mid-summer onwards.
Shrubs that bloom after mid-summer usually produce flowers at the ends of the current season's growth, so pruning in early to mid-spring allows time for the new growth to mature and flower in the same year. Avoid pruning in winter, as it may lead to frost damage of new shoots.
In early to mid-spring cut back the previous year's flowering stems to within one or two buds of the older woody framework. Also remove any thin, weak or dead growth.Fuchsia may need cutting back to near ground level. This stimulates development of strong new growth on which flowers will be produced in late summer.Pruning as early in spring as possible will give the maximum growing period for the young shoots. Evergreens require a slightly different approach.
After pruning, mulch and feed.
Overgrown shrubs may need renovation.
Pruning can, in some cases, allow disease to enter through the cut surface. Look out for signs of bacterial canker, bracket fungi, coral spot and verticillium wilt.
Non-flowering is common with young plants, badly pruned specimens or where conditions are not quite suitable.
Hydrangea pruningPruning for colourful stems or large foliageRHS Pruning groupsRHS video: Pruning summer flowering shrubsShrubsShrubs and trees: light pruningShrubs: pruning early flowering Shrubs: pruning evergreensShrubs: renovation
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In this fully revised edition, you’ll find updated advice by the RHS experts on what, when and how to prune.
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