Perfect Pruning

Winter makes you want to hibernate under a warm blanket with a cup of soup but there is work waiting outside if you want to sit back and enjoy your spring garden. Pruning plants that will benefit from being cut back during winter is one of those tasks that need to be tackled now. So get yourself ready and head outdoors – you will soon be shedding layers of clothing as the blood starts pumping and you get into the swing of things!

Timing is Everything.
In South Africa the second week in July to the first week in August is generally considered the time to prune. Many plants benefit from pruning in winter; these include roses, deciduous fruit trees and grapevines. Bear in mind that if you live in the colder areas of the country you will need to wait to the middle or end of August. Don’t leave it too late though because it will delay the much anticipated arrival of those first flowers in October.

Picky Pruning.
It must be stressed that there are some plants that should not be pruned in winter. Many plants produce flowers or fruit on the previous season’s hardened growth. Cutting these plants back at this point in their growth cycle will simply remove the forming flower buds and stops them from flowering when they should. If you are at all in doubt about what to cut, consult your local nursery for expert advice before starting.

Deciduous Trees.
At this time of the year deciduous trees display their naked framework of branches to the sky, giving you a clear opportunity to remove old or unhealthy growth and to cut away unwanted branches.

Hedges and Shrubs.
The key to a thick, dense hedge is to prune the plants regularly during their formative years. Tidying growth tips repeatedly encourages dense basal growth and a better hedge in the long term. Omitting to do this will results in leggy hedges with little body. Likewise shrubs need to be maintained on a regular basis as they generally form the foundation of most gardens.

Pruning is essentially plant surgery. Therefore always ensure your secateurs, shears and loppers are clean and sharp. Now is the time to invest in a sharp new pair to make sure that each cut is clean and precise with no bruising to the “patient”. The sharper your tool is the easier it is on your hands as well – something you will appreciate after a few hours of work!

After completing your “surgery” you need to apply some Steriseal. Steriseal is a fungicidal pruning wound paste used for sealing and sterilising pruning wounds on roses, fruit trees and ornamental plants.

Lime Sulphur:
Once all your pruning is complete, spray the plants and soil with lime sulphur. Do not spray lime sulphur on plants with active growing eyes or foliage – it will damage them. Lime sulphur will control fungi spores both on the plants and in the ground. Remember that lime sulphur should be fresh – old stock is not effective. Throw away last years old stuff and buy fresh stock for this year’s gardening efforts. Use concentrations only as indicated on the label.

Visit your nearest Jack’s Paint & Hardware store for expert advice, the right product at the right price on the above mentioned topic(s) and other DIY projects.
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