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How and why to prune this July

Come on KZN, get your tools sharpened because from Durban to Dundee and Pongola to Port Edward, July is pruning month for fruit trees, shrubs and roses. Pruning is often seen as a laborious chore, when in reality – with the right tools and know-how, it can be an easy, enjoyable weekend task. Sharp secateurs, long handled loppers, a well sharpened pruning saw and a strong pair of gloves will help to make pruning a breeze.

Three good reasons to prune this July;

  1. Pruning promotes the healthy growth of new young wood by cutting away weak shoots and dead wood. It also allows more light and air to reach the base of the plant, thereby promoting growth.
  2. Pruning is also a great way to retain the natural form of shrubs and trees by shortening unruly branches.
  3. Pruning helps to increase the size and quality of blooms. If you don’t prune, some shrubs will soon become a mass of weak tangled shoots, incapable of producing good size flowers or roses.

Effective Rose Pruning

Pruning rose bushes can be an intimidating task – but one that is very good for the plant. It does take some practice to become an accomplished pruner, but just remember that it is very difficult to kill a rose – even with bad pruning! Most mistakes will grow out quickly and it is better to prune, than to let your rose bush grow rampant.

  1. Start by removing all the dead leaves and flower heads.
  2. The best place to begin is from the base of the plant. Methodically remove all the dead, diseased and damaged stems. Cut them away at their lowest or base point.
  3. Remove spindly and weak growth that is unlikely to be able to support buds or clusters of blooms.
  4. With all bush and shrub roses, cut away all stems that cross the centre of the plant. Aim for a vase-shaped bush that ends up with four or five strong stems around an open centre.
  5. Decide which four or five stems you wish to retain and cut these stems back to knee height (50-75cm).
  6. How to cut? While traditional methods suggest that you cut at a 45 degree angle, the latest theory is that a straight cut exposes the least amount of stem to the air and is unlikely to collect water (and therefore fungal diseases).
  7. To make your pruning process even more effective, apply Farmyard Organics Rose Grow to the base of the plant. Rose grow is a mixture of organic compost and bone meal, and is specially designed to support the growth of roses. It’s high phosphorous and calcium content will aid in root growth, strengthen stems, encourage new shoots and help to prevent rot.

Happy pruning!