Winter is upon us and this is often a season when we are not thinking about planting or mulching or other jobs in our gardens.
However, pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs that are now, or soon to become, “naked” in our garden is one job worth doing in winter. Fruit trees, roses and deciduous ornamental trees are best pruned while they are dormant in winter.
Some gardeners I know take a very simple, aggressive approach to their winter pruning. Out comes the chain saw and they simply cut off up to 50% of the rose bushes or fruit trees, and they achieve results with regrowth that are better than doing no pruning! If you are not the chain saw type pruner then there are a few good “rules” to follow.
Use good sharp secateurs or small hand saws and cut off branches at approximately 45 degree angles, just above outward facing buds. Cut out all dead or broken branches. For fruit trees and roses, remove branches that are facing inwards. This will open the centre of the tree or bush up to more sun and will be beneficial for flowering, fruit ripening and disease minimisation.
If you are planting new, deciduous ornamental or fruit trees when they are dormant in winter, I recommend you don’t prune immediately. Let the trees get well established with as much branching and leaf growth in their first growth season then begin to prune and shape them in their second winter when they have got good root development.
One other tip with rose pruning. In our climate where we can get quite severe frosts, don’t prune your roses until the end of winter. If you prune them earlier in winter, you may stimulate fresh growth which will be highly vulnerable to burn off by subsequent frosts.
Millthorpe Garden Nursery