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Hiding pruning cuts. One of hardest things to do is to hide pruning cut. Impossible? Well maybe. The visual impact of cuts can be lessened dramatically by changing angle of cut and position of cut. If possible always make cut beside an existing side shoot so end does not look like it has been cut off. Try to face cuts upwards or towards centre of plant or towards back of border.
Pick those flowers. The easiest and most rewarding pruning anyone can do is to pick flowers for indoor display or to give away. This way flowers can be appreciated in garden and inside house. Cutting flowers off at correct pruning position will save additional pruning time later on.
Pruning times. Confusion often reins about time to prune many plants. A simple rule is this; "Prune After Flowering". There is no need to remember which plants need pruning in which months. Pruning after flowering means that dead flowers are removed, unwanted fruit is not produced and new shoots are encouraged to grow. Spring flowering plants are a good example because it is easy to see how this is applied. Similarly with summer flowering plants.
With plants that are tender and likely to be frosted over winter just consider dormant period of winter as a "short" period. Fuchsias, for example, flower in late summer, are frost tender in winter, and make growth in spring. During dormant period of winter no growth takes place. Therefore to prune in spring does not effect growth of plant. The rule therefore still applies "prune after flowering".
Pruning after flowering allows plant to take longest possible time to lay down new shoots and buds for next flowering season.
Summer pruning. Most of training will occur in summer not winter. Summer pruning and training requires care and knowledge. Young vigorous growth can be removed to encourage branching at a lower height in same season. It may be possible to prune same shoots twice or even tree times during summer. This encourages plant to mature earlier and at a smaller size, producing flowers and fruit earlier in its life.
Root pruning. Root pruning is not practiced very much. It can be a very effective way to slow down growth of very vigorous plants.
No pruning. Not all plants require pruning and same plant growing in different places may require different pruning to achieve required garden shape. Always consider individual, plant and its character and its position in garden.
If you do not like pruning then choose plants that don't require pruning.
Final Advice Pruning is not a once a year job. People often regard pruning as a once a year activity. Don't be fooled by fact that some other people use pruning as an excuse for a mid-winter or spring cleanup. Think of plants - they are individuals too and require individual treatment.
The only way to become a competent pruner is to practice pruning, observe results, correct your techniques and practice. Remember practice makes perfect.
Alan Jolliffe is a garden writer and lecturer. I am available to write special articles for you about Gardening and about New Zealand. I am a professional horticulturist, recreation manager,tourism advisor, teacher and local government manager. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org