July is the best time of the year for the pruning of many fruit trees as well as roses.
There are two main reasons for pruning a plant, firstly to improve its flowering and/or fruiting qualities. The second is to maintain a desired shape, either for improved visual appeal or for practical reasons.
The timing for pruning roses and many deciduous trees and fruits falls during the winter months when these plants are dormant. A guide for pruning is to do it on a day where warmth and air movement are such that you would be able to dry washing. Pruning on a damp, wet day significantly increases the risk of the spread and infection of bacterial and fungus disease. The use of pruning paste on cut ends of branches is also important to minimise the risk of disease and insect invasions.
Roses Pruning is essential to reinvigorate the plant promoting new growth and subsequent flower development. July is the best time to prune roses in Wanganui gardens. If they are pruned any earlier they tend to sprout into new growth while the weather is still cold and there is then a higher risk of frost damage to the growth.
Many people struggle to know where to start when pruning. It is important to use the correct tools for pruning, as too small a tool will make any job difficult. Secateurs for small twiggy growth, loppers for small branches and a pruning saw for larger branches.
The first step is to simply remove any dead, diseased and badly insect infested branches and then carry on from there. Where prunings are diseased it is important to burn the prunings, or send out with the rubbish rather than composting. Thin, weak stems should be removed with stronger ones retained. Inward facing and crossed branches should be removed also. The aim is to open the centre of the plant up to allow increased air flow which reduces insect and disease infestation in the coming season. The remaining branches should be reduced by up to ¾'s in the case of a bush or standard rose. Climbing roses should be pruned by approximately 1/2. And laterals shortened by 2/3's back towards a main leader.
Fruit Tree Pruning is primarily undertaken to allow sufficient light to penetrate into the canopy area to maximise fruit set, yield, and fruit quality. Here are some pointers on pruning and training some fruits.
Basically the objectives of good pruning are to;
1)Maintain the size and quantity of the fruit
2)Remove dead and diseased wood.
3)Train the young tree so that it will develop a vigorous strong framework of branches that is able to carry heavy crops over a long period of time without damage to the branches of the tree.
4)Train the tree to a form (vase shape, central leader shape etc.), which aids the management of disease control and harvesting.
5)Provide good quality and an even distribution of healthy fruiting wood throughout the tree.
Note that every time a pruning cut is made plant growth is stopped in one direction and encouraged in another. Always make cuts back to or just above some growing point – a fruit bud or strong lateral (side branch) – or to a main branch.
Mark these Free Pruning Demonstrations on your Calender;
All at Springvale Garden Centre, 18 Devon Road, Whanganui.
Rose Talk & Pruning; Sunday 1st July/ Wednesday 4th July both at 2pm
Fruit Tree Talk & Pruning Demonstration; Sunday 8th July/ Wednesday 11th July, both at 2pm.
Gareth Carter is General Manager of Springvale Garden Centre.