Regular pruning encourages new growth and is essential for keeping plants happy and healthy. Before grabbing those secateurs, read on for everything you need to know about cutting back shrubs, trees, roses and other flowering plants…

Broad-leaved evergreens

When to prune: early spring

Broad-leaved evergreens, like boxwood, should be pruned in early spring and then shaped in early summer. Young plants benefit from regular pruning as it increases their growth and density, so if this is the look you’re after, there’s no harm in pruning more often – just not in late autumn.

Ornamental grasses

When to prune: early spring

Grasses should be cut as close to the ground as possible. Make this easier by tying the tops of the grasses together.

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Semi-woody perennials

When to prune: early spring

Cutting back semi-woody perennials (like butterfly bushes) will encourage healthier and stronger stem growth, which means more flowers. Cut them back to about 10 centimeters tall.

Flowering plants

When to prune: early spring

Flowering plants like hydrangeas should be pruned in early spring to ensure a plethora of blooms come summer. Remove dead and damaged stems and shape as you please. Hard pruning (cutting all the way back to the ground) works well on hydrangeas if you want them to produce bigger blooms. However, to reduce flopping, the framework of the plant can be left in tact.

Spring-flowering shrubs

When to prune: early summer

Spring-flowering shrubs, like azaleas and rhododendron, form the next year’s buds during summer, so early pruning of these plants is essential. Prune right after flowering, deadhead and clip fading flowers and leaves as well as any crossing limbs.

Deciduous trees and evergreens

When to prune: winter

Winter is the perfect time to prune many trees as you’ll easily see where exactly to trim. Remove dead, damaged and over-lapping branches on young trees. It is however best to leave pruning of large trees to professionals who have the proper equipment and know-how.


When to prune: winter

Rose pruning should ideally be done during the month of July. Start by cutting all the stems the same height, cutting about half the existing stems off. Get rid of dead branches and old wood (the much darker branches) as well as any branches growing towards the inside of the bush.

Rose bushes should be shaped from the inside out, meaning fewer stems in the centre of the bush. The final cut should be 5–10mm above an outward-facing node. Remember that there’s no need to feed roses straight after pruning, wait at least a month, then give them a good dose of organic granular plant food.