When you’re busy enjoying the summertime in your garden, it can be easy to overlook tasks like summer pruning. Pruning is for when plants are dormant in winter, right? Well… not quite. Summer pruning is essential to keep your plants strong, healthy, in good shape and flowering and fruiting as much as possible.
It’s worth having a tidy in your garden during the summer months by cutting back any old wood and trimming vigorous spring growth to promote stronger, more productive growth. In this article, I’ll share with you some of the many benefits of summer pruning and some particular plants that will benefit from some maintenance at this time.
Why prune in the summer?
During spring and summer, many of your garden plants will have a huge flush of growth that looks beautiful, fresh and green. However, this kind of organic growth can become too large for your plot, or form a shape that isn’t ideal. Summer pruning allows you to shape and train plants to a look and size that suits you.
Summer pruning also encourages flowering in climbers like honeysuckle, jasmine and wisteria. New growth on these plants is packed with nitrogen, and by trimming this back you’ll help the plant to produce potash, which is essential for plenty of blooms.
Fruit bushes like blackcurrants will only produce a good crop from each stem for a few years, so it’s worth pruning away any older stems in the summertime. This will allow younger stems to flourish and keep plenty of lovely berries coming. Blackberries and raspberries will grow new stems each year, so old fruited stems can be trimmed all the way down to the ground to allow the new growth plenty of space.
Summer pruning for flowering plants
Evergreens like camellia and rhododendron will benefit from a good prune in the summertime to help promote new growth and plenty of blooms. Use secateurs to remove up to a third of the old wood, cutting back to just above a leaf joint or bud. Aim to remove any crossing or congested branches to allow the plant space to breathe.
Spring-flowering shrubs like forsythia, philadelphus and lilac will need to be trimmed back in the early summer to keep them in a good growth habit. Remove entirely any frost-damaged stems when all risk of frost has passed.
Rambling roses can grow like the clappers through the summertime and can become a bit tangled and messy if left to their own devices. Pruning them after they’ve flowered will help to create a more manicured look with lots of flowers. You can be heavy-handed when cutting back roses – aim to cut about a third of the oldest stems right back to the ground (don’t worry – new growth will come!) and remove any thin or diseased stems.
Hedges and topiary like box, privet and hornbeam will need a good trim at this time, too. This will keep them in a good shape and encourage thick growth. Slow-growing shrubs should be trimmed at the start and end of the summer, but more vigorous plants like privet can be pruned every six weeks or as needed.
Summer pruning for fruit trees and bushes
Fruit trees like apples, plums and pears will have a spurt of new growth through the spring, but this tender new growth won’t produce good fruit. You’ll just need to trim back any excess growth in order to create plenty of space and ventilation for the forming fruits. You might need to use loppers or a pruning saw to prune your fruit trees.
Fruit bushes like raspberries, loganberries and tayberries should be pruned once their stems have finished cropping. Prune out any old stems, cutting them right back to the ground to encourage new stems to grow next year.
Further reading: Caring for your fruit trees
So there we have it – it’s another summer job, but it’s one that’s really worth doing. The benefits will come back to you tenfold next summer. Happy pruning! Katie x