How to prune plants

Pruning is often seen as the ‘black art’ of the garden, but it’s really quite straight forward if you remember four key rules:

  1. Make sure you know why you want to prune the plant. Eg is it to get more vigorous growth, improve flowering, change the shape, restrict the size, etc.
  2. If you don’t know the answer to 1 then you probably don’t need to prune it. In nature plants survive perfectly well without being hacked at with a pair of secateurs every year!
  3. Make sure you know whether plants flower on the growth they’ve put on this year, or last year. Otherwise you could prune at the wrong time and cut off all the flower buds (so you’ll miss out on that year’s flowers and fruit).
  4. Get the right tools for the job to ensure you make clean cuts, otherwise you could cause damage or infection.

All our plant information gives specific timings for pruning, so this ‘how to’ section will give you more general information on pruning techniques, plus a detailed look at plants which require more specialist pruning.

Making cuts


Pollarding and coppicing

Pruning roses

Renovation/hard pruning