Summer pruning

Here are some tips on what plants to target and how to prune them:

  • Rampant vines need a regular cut back. Whenever you see a long, wandering stem obstructing your passageway or heading towards the guttering of your house, reach for the shears, secateurs or pole pruners. Cut them back to 5 or 6 buds to maintain a nice, compact arrangement of foliage close to the main trunk or branch.
  • Hedges and topiaries need constant trimming in summer, just to keep them in shape. Shear them lightly and regularly, and save any harder restorative pruning for autumn, when conditions are milder.
  • Repeat-flowering roses respond well to a good summer clean-up. Reduce their height by at least a third, and clear out any dead, diseased and spindly growth. Fertilise and water well, then prepare yourself for an autumn flush of prize-winning blooms.
  • Summer-flowering perennials should be deadheaded regularly to keep plants tidy. Just snip off their flowers once they’ve passed their best. Lavender bushes like a light all-over trim after flowering to keep them compact. Some salvias can tolerate a slightly harder pruning in summer if they are looking shabby, and will often reply with a repeat bloom.
  • Summer-fruiting trees such as mango and lychee should be trimmed lightly after harvest to keep them to a manageable size.

Summer is also an important time to prune stone fruit to thin excessive growth and encourage fruiting wood. In the February issue, our horticultural editor, Phil Dudman, describes the best cuts to make when summer-pruning peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums and cherries.