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Aussie Green Thumb – Top Gardening Tips For Everyday People

From the Vault – Pruning

It is getting towards the time of year where you need to start thinking about pruning some of your plants for the winter period. Many plants ’shut down’ over the winter period and so cutting of dead flowers and parts of the plant help the plant to survive even the harshest winter. Pruning helps by removing elements of the plant that take a lot of energy to keep alive. Even when a flower dies the plant can spend a lot of energy on the spent flowers, starting to form seeds. Cutting or plucking off the dead flowers helps the plant by removing the need to give energy to that part of the growth, therefore helping to promote growth in the growing times. This is why dead heading is a good practise as it encourages the plant to grow in other area’s once it no longer has to focus on sustaining the dead flower and the whole seed production process.

Roses in particular enjoy a good winter prune. In July or August give your roses a healthy prune. Rose pruning advice varies greatly. I myself like to give them a fairly vigorous cut, removing between 1/3 and 2/3’s of each stem. You can also thin out the rose by cutting off stems that cross each other, giving the rose a better overall shape. In fact pruning time is a great opportunity to shape your plants in the way you’d like them to grow during the next growing season. When pruning always cut stems at a 45 degree angle. This helps the plant to repair itself where you make the cut and encourages more shoots to sprout around the cut area, which is what you are going for. One thing to take into consideration when doing this though is in area’s that you want a particular shape to happen or where you want a stem to grow in a particular direction as a v is likely to be formed where you prune a stem as the new growth sprouts. This may require pruning later on to remove new stems that have grown in places you would prefer they did not grow.

Another important point is some plants are more susceptible than others to a bad prune. As I mentioned before I like to vigorously prune roses. This is mostly because established rose plants tend to be pretty hardy when it comes to vigorous prunes and can come back from seemingly impossible conditions. Australian natives plants on the other hand often require a more delicate prune and certainly prefer to be pruned straight after a flowering season. A simple google search will usually net you good results for whether or not the plant you wish to prune needs a delicate or vigorous pruning or alternatively leave a comment below on this post and I will get back to you.

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  • Hi.
    I have taken over a garden that has a few plants that have not been prunned for a very long time and therefore the centre of the plants are woody with no foliage. They are ground cover plants that have spread over a few metres but as I said the centre of the plant has not foliage and looks dead (even though I know its not). Should I prune really harshly right back to the woody part? Is it best to wait till after summer to do this?

  • aussiegreenthumb

    Hey Tracie,
    To a degree it depends on exactly what plants they are. Without knowing that it is hard to give exact advice, HOWEVER do you have the ability to prune a small portion hard and see how it responds? As you have suggested, even if the core looks dead it likely isn’t, given the plant is still alive elsewhere.

    It is best to wait till after summer for a big prune. Perhaps you could choose a small area to prune hard now, so that by the time summer is over you’ll know if the whole section can handle a heavy prune?

    That is likely what I would try if i didn’t exactly know the plant or growth type.

  • Belinda

    Hey there,

    I just wanted to let you know we included you blog in our story on top 50 Gardening Blogs at http://www.sheinspires.com.au/gardening/50-top-gardening-blogs

    Do have a look and let us know your thoughts. You’re welcome to link to it too .

    All the best,



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