Gardening: Monty Don shares ‘best time’ to prune for next year growth – ‘end of May’

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Monty Don, who presents the television series Gardeners’ World, regularly shares his tips and tricks on his blog. With summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to start preparing for it. 

With lockdown restrictions easing and Britons allowed to gather in private gardens again, many may turn to getting their garden ready for summer.

One of the most important jobs in the garden is pruning, and although it may not be the most fun, it is crucial in maintaining plants and shrubs. 

Pruning is when you selectively remove branches from a tree or dead petals from a flower.

The goal is to remove any unwanted or dead branches, leaves or petals.

Pruning will not only help the structure of the plant or tree, but will also encourage healthy growth. 

Monty explained that the best time to prune early-flowering clematis is right now.

Writing on his blog, he said: “The best time to prune early-flowering cleanest such as c.montana, armandii, alpina and macropetala, is immediately after they finish flowering.

“Obviously the timing of this will vary considerably in different parts of the country but the principle remains constant and for many of us this occurs at the end of May.

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“Next year’s flowers are formed on all the new growth made from this period until late summer so if you prune them much later than mid to late June you will be removing potential flowers that would bloom next spring.

“Pruning of these clematis is solely to maintain their size and spread for your convenience rather than for any horticultural benefit.

“So cut back freely, not worrying about individual stems or the position of the cut.

“Then when you have finished, weed round the plant, water it well and mulch generously with garden compost or bark chippings.”

According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) clematis is one of the most popular garden plants. 

This is because they produce masses of flowers in a variety of shapes and colours.

The website explained that regular pruning is vital in encouraging strong and healthy growth.

It reads: “Regular pruning encourages strong, healthy growth, improves flowering and keeps clematis plants in check.

“Left unpruned, these climbers tend to form a mass of tangled stems with bare bases and flowers well above eye level, so although it can be a time-consuming hack, it is well worth the effort.

“Clematis have a reputation for being difficult to prune, but they aren’t as long as you know when your plants flowers, as the three clematis pruning groups are based on flowering time:

“Pruning group one – Clematis that flower in winter and spring on shoots produced the previous summer.

“Pruning group two – Large-flowered cultivars that flower in early summer (May and June), including those referred to as twice-flowering. These produce flowers on shoots from last year’s growth, with a later flush on new growth.

“Pruning group three – Climbing clematis that flower from mid-summer (late June onwards) on new, current season growth, and herbaceous types.”

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