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Preparing For Winter Pruning

Winter is a time when many plants will shed their foliage and go into dormancy, saving their energy for the new season. This can be a great opportunity to do some much needed pruning. Pruning should always be left until late winter, or at the latest very early spring, as pruning too early can cause the exposed wood to dry out. 

So, going into the cold season, what needs to be done in your garden?

Getting ready for winter

The growth season during spring and summer is a busy, and hopefully fruitful, time for your garden. When it’s over, there’s a lot of clean up to be done, clearing away debris to avoid having to deal with pests making themselves at home. Laying down mulch and compost can protect your plants too, whilst keeping weeds at bay. Compost also provides a source of slow release nutrients that can keep plants fed over the winter, while not bombarding them with excess nutrients that may do more harm than good.

Dormant plants don’t need much nutrition, so compost should be just fine. However, while their foliage may have fallen off, their roots are very much alive, so keeping the soil well conditioned is a must. Roots, Shoots and Fruits’ Humax product is an ideal soil conditioner that provides stability to the soil as well as helping your plants to better access and retain nutrients.

Why should you prune?

Pruning is an important part of keeping your garden healthy and ready to flourish in the next season. It may seem counterintuitive to cut back plants that you’re trying to cultivate, but most plants and trees are not going to flower or produce fruits and vegetables year round. And when they aren’t, pruning helps to keep them tidy and makes room for new growth  which will be ready to bloom again in the Spring.

green leaves beside brown wooden rolling pin

What to prune and when

Different plants have different cycles and so not all are suitable for pruning in winter. Generally, if a plant blooms on new wood, it’s safe to prune it in winter. Blooming on new wood simply means that a plant produces flowers on growth that was established earlier in the same season. This includes roses, certain types of hydrangea, fruit trees and vines.

Focus foremost on any dead or diseased branches. This can help to avoid any pest infestations and disease from setting in. Pruning wounds can be sprayed with beneficial organisms such as TRI-D25 or Superzyme to help callus and protect wounds from pathogen entry. Make sure also to gather the cut branches and dispose of them. Remove any branches growing at odd angles that work against the desired shape of the plant. How much should be pruned depends on the plant. Vines, for example, can be cut back quite significantly to make room for the next season’s growth. 

Just because your garden may be going to sleep for the winter, that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Doing some sensible clean up and pruning back can allow your plants to flourish again next spring. 

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