Pruning, dead heading and shaping

Giving your plants a haircut not only keeps them looking good – it lets light and air in so your plants aren't as susceptible to fungal diseases and pests. It can also improve fruit or vegetable size and quality.

Deadheading involves removing dead flowers. This keeps herbs from going to seed, and encourages flowers to keep blooming.

Shaping helps you achieve a particular size or shape that fits your space. It is used for hedges, topiary, espalier and bonsai.

pruning plants

We recommend that you:

Get the right tools
Secateurs and loppers are all that most gardeners need but you may need a garden saw for trees. Invest in quality and regularly clean and sharpen your pruning tools so they don’t transfer disease between plants, and so you can make sharp cuts that heal well.

Small and often
A small and often approach stops pruning building into a big task. Keep your garden lush and healthy by regularly walking around with a pair of secateurs. (It‘s also a great way to unwind at the end of the day!)

Dead head herbs and flowers regularly
Most herbs and perennials benefit from cutting back of dead flowers or straggly growth. Cut low to about 5 -10 centimetres from the ground where there are new buds forming ready to produce the next round of flowers or green growth.

Have fun with shaping and topiary
Clearing the bottom stems of bushes can produce a lovely architectural shape, or try espalier for a stunning look. Regular clipping encourages uniform growth in hedges and enables you to achieve topiary shapes.

Choose the right time to prune
Generally, you prune in winter for structure, and summer to remove diseased limbs or control unruly growth. However, some plants are best pruned at certain times of the year. Fruit trees are mostly pruned in winter, but frost-tender shrubs and bushes shouldn’t be pruned until after the last frosts.

If pruning in summer, always prune after flowering and fruiting unless you are removing leaves or young shoots to allow for air flow or to focus energy on fruit production. (Good practice for grapes, leafy citrus, figs, currants, tomatoes, apples and pears.)

To reduce the risk of introducing disease, choose a dry day for pruning.

Make the cut
Prune at a 45-degree angle a little above a bud (slope away from the bud). Generally speaking, you shouldn't need to prune your trees or bushes by any more than one third of their size.