Plants To Prune In Late Winter
February is often the coldest month of the year and it may seem that winter is not over yet but look closely as you walk around your garden or local park and you will find a plethora of early flowers buds and new shoots beginning to burst into life.
In shaded areas Cyclamen Coum, Narcissus February Gold and the classic Wild Primroses are providing their pretty flowers for all to spot beside hellebores still in full flower. Move onto the shrub border and Daphne Sarcococca and Hamamelis are all in bloom. These flowers may be delicate but their scents are rich and strong. Look up and you might just spot the earliest of the flowering trees the delicate pink flowering cherry Prunus subhirtella Autumnalis Rosea.
As far as gardening jobs go it may still be too muddy to mow the lawn and too cold to sow seeds on the veg patch but it's a perfect time for pruning ground covering herbaceous perennials and to shape fruit trees for bumper crops next summer.
Cornus or Dogwood has strikingly coloured bare stems in winter like the rich red of C. Sibirica. If left to grow will be too tall with less intense colour next year so cut it back to 20 cm from the ground every year and the new growths will be fresh and bright again. The Butterfly Bush Buddleija also thrives by being cut hard back now to 2 pairs of buds higher than last year’s regrowth. By doing this your bush will be more compact and will produce larger flowers.
Hydrangea Paniculata is best pruned before the new season’s growth starts, so prune last year’s branches back to two buds. H. Annabelle should be pruned harder to 25 cm from the ground as it produces its strongest growth from low down you will achieve a more pleasing shape by hard pruning and larger flowers up to 30cm wide. Leave the old flowers of mophead or lacecap hydrangeas for now as they protect the new flowering buds below until the risk of frost has gone in late March. Evergreen shrubs that have finished flowering or flower late in the year can also be pruned to shape in late February. This includes Euonymus, Photinia, Eleagnus and some Viburnums.
Roses are best pruned in March after the cold weather has gone but make sure you tie any untrained branches of climbing roses to the trellis or wire supports now to stop them being blown around and causing wind rock to their roots.
Wisteria requires pruning in February to encourage it to flower well in the Spring. The new side-shoots should have been shortened to 30cm last summer and cut back to two pairs of buds now. These buds will often look much fatter than other buds on the plant a sign that they have flowers growing within them.
The late Summer and Autumn flowering clematis Viticella Orientalis and Texensis should be cutback to 30cm from the ground in their first year and 100cm in subsequent seasons because they flower on this seasons growth.
Leave the old stems of Herbaceous Perennials Ferns and Grasses intact overwinter as many insects will overwinter in the old foliage and stems. This old growth can be removed at the end of February back to 10 cm above ground level to tidy up before the new growth starts.
In the fruit garden shorten the side-shoots of Red and White currents and Gooseberries to 5cms and the leading shoots by a third to encourage compact growth and more rapid ripening of the fruits. Autumn fruiting Raspberries should be cut back to 5cms as this year’s growth will produce the fruit from August onwards. Apples and Pears can be pruned this month to regulate growth. Remove larger branches and thin out overcrowded buds. Leave Plums and Cherries until later in the summer as pruning too early can allow disease to start on cut surfaces in cold damp conditions. Peaches Nectarines and Apricots flower in February so protect them with fleece on cold nights while also pruning out any dead, diseased or crossing stems.
It’s January and our Gardening Year begins again.
Here in the darkest winter days there’s a fresh enthusiasm and plans to be made for the garden in this whole new Gardening Year.
Venture to the Garden Centre and you will see some of the delights that could be colourful and exciting in your garden even in the middle of winter.