Give your plants the kindest cut

It was great to get the rain we so sorely needed, and to have some cooler weather this week. Much better gardening conditions, so get out there and get some jobs done!

Summer pruning is essential for such rampant vines as wisteria - they put on extra long growth at this time of year, and if you don't head it back you will end up with a tangled mess. Prune long, whippy growths back to three or four buds to keep them under control.

The warmth and reliable rainfall from now on make for ideal conditions for renovation pruning of citrus, gardenias and hybrid grevilleas.

Don't be frightened to cut off large branches, as they will spring back and be bushy again by the winter. Of course, if you give your old citrus this treatment you will get little or no fruit this year, but the improved health of the vigorous new shoots will reward you with a bumper crop next year.

If taking off large branches you need to be careful. Make an undercut about 20cm from the final, flush cut, then saw through to get rid of most of the weight of the branch.

You can then cut off the stub without the risk of it twisting and damaging the bark of the trunk. Cut just at the top of the slight swelling at the base of the branch and the plant should have no trouble healing the wound.

Don't apply any coating to the cut wood, as they just slow down the bark as it tries to heal over. Do give a heavily pruned shrub or tree a good dose of fertiliser, make sure it has plenty of water and is well mulched.

With that done you can be sure it has the best chance of growing healthy and strong.


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