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26 July 2014
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Summer 2002
John Cushnie On...

Cut Out The Bad Bits
6 March 2003

There are lots of reasons for pruning. It encourages growth, helps fruit and flower production and is used to shape plants. There are times when it can be described as surgery when the operation is to prune pieces of the shrub or tree which, if not removed, will kill or weaken the plant.

Small stems can be cut with secateurs or a sharp knife. Thicker branches may need to be removed with a hand saw or long handled loppers. Whenever possible make the cut on an angle to allow rain water to run off rather than sit on the flat cut and soak into the stem.

Eleagnus Pungens 'Maculata' Removing diseased branches is essential to prevent the spread of the fungus spores.
Apple canker is difficult to control and cutting out the diseased portion or removing the whole branch is the best
way of getting on
top of it. Any cuts larger than half inch diameter should be painted with a proprietary product or household
paint to seal the wound and exclude spores of the disease. There is no control for virus disease and when necessary the infected plant should be dug up and burnt. Reversion is a regular occurrence with some plants such as Eleagnus pungens ‘Maculata’ (right) and E.p ‘Gold
Edge’. One branch on the variegated shrub reverts to the plain green leaf of the parent. If the branch is not removed early when it is still small it will grow more quickly than the variegated branches
eventually taking over and smothering the weaker stems. Remove the whole branch as close to the main stem as possible.

Stag's hornSuckers coming from below the graft are a nuisance and can weaken the plant. Rhus typhina, the Stag’s horn is aggressive and will send up suckers through hard fill and tarmac. Pull them off complete with the portion of root they were attached to or they will resprout. They can
be a nuisance in the lawn.

Rose suckers at or from below ground level are difficult to dig out. Those appearing up the stem on standard roses need to be pulled off or cut with a knife close to the main stem. If not removed they will take over the plant and eventually kill it. Trees with young branches often produce narrow angles which, later in life, can split down the middle
in a storm destroying the tree and anything below.

Remove the weakest stem or the one least likely to straighten. Big trees can be trimmed to keep them within bounds. Paulownia tomentosum, the foxglove tree, has large 12 inch hairy, mid green leaves and will grow to 50 ft. If the young tree is hard pruned to within 12 inches of the ground in spring it will grow, that summer, to form upright 8-10 ft high stems with enormous 18 inch leaves.

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