It’s an exciting time in the garden, full of promise. The days are lengthening and despite some hard frosts, temperatures are rising and spring bulbs appearing.
As a very general guide, plants which flower early in the year are pruned immediately after flowering, because they flower on the previous year’s growth. This gives them time to put on new growth during the rest of that year, ready to flower early the following year.
Late flowering plants are left through the winter to be pruned in the following spring, after the danger of frosts has passed, because they flower on the current season’s growth. So they are pruned early in the year and put on new growth, which flowers later the same year.
There are always exceptions to the rule and nowadays the weather is unpredictable, which can confuse not only plants, but wildlife too.
But Don’t Worry! If you prune at the wrong time, you’ll lose that year’s flowers but it’s unlikely you’ll kill the plant.
1. Prune wintering flowering shrubs if they have finished flowering.
2. Prune Wisteria, this requires pruning twice a year.
Wisteria Summer Pruning. In July or August cut back the long whippy, thin green shoots, leaving 5 or 6 leaves at the base of the shoot. This controls the size and prevents wisteria from getting into gutters and under roof tiles.
Wisteria Winter Pruning. In January or February, cut back the same shoots you pruned in the summer, leaving 2 or 3 shoots at the base. This encourages the plant to develop flower buds and not just leaf buds. If you didn’t prune in the summer, don’t worry, just go ahead with winter pruning
- Grasses. Between now and late March, cut deciduous grasses down to an inch or two of stubble, it will only be a few weeks before you see them again.
- Evergreen grasses. Comb them through to remove any dead stuff – don’t cut them back.
- Snowdrops are flowering, if you have lots they can be divided. With a trowel or hand fork, gently dig out a small clump and re-plant it elsewhere in the garden – this is called planting ‘in the green’.
- Perennials. Leaving them through the winter will have provided food and cover for wild-life, but now they will be looking tatty so you can start to tidy up by cutting the dead stems at the base. Mind where you step on the borders as there will be new shoots appearing.
- Ponds. Don’t clean or empty them out as they are waking up, leave that til late autumn, but remove leaves that have landed in them. Also remove other, obviously dead plant material but leave it to drain on the ground nearby, so any creatures can escape and return to the water and don’t disturb frogspawn.
- Fruit and vegetables. Start preparing the beds, some seeds can be sown under cover. As fruit buds appear you may want to net them to protect them from the birds.
But my blackbirds adore blueberries! So, I’ve decided I get as much pleasure from watching the birds eat them, as I do from eating them myself – so we share them!