Winter pruning

A Full Moon phase during winter is a good time to prune most deciduous plants. From 19th of this month is a good time to prune dormant trees and vines that tend to bleed (weep sap) if pruned in late winter. These include grapes, kiwi fruit, mulberry, birch, conifers, frangipani, maple and poplar. Pecans, which bleed readily and require minimal pruning, are best pruned during Last Quarter phase (from June 26th) when sap flow is lowest. Almonds should also be pruned early in winter because they flower earlier than other Prunus species. Other deciduous fruit trees can be pruned in winter with the exception of apricots and cherries. These trees are prone to bacterial canker if pruned when sap flow is low and cuts are slow to heal. Young apricot and cherry trees can be pruned in spring during First Quarter phase, and mature trees pruned after harvest during a Full Moon phase. Deciduous fruit trees grown for spring flowers rather than fruit are pruned during a First Quarter phase, after flowering.
It is a good idea to keep a container of methylated spirits with you when pruning and regularly wipe the blades of your pruning tools to avoid the risk of spreading and bacteria or fungal spores from one plant to another.

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Pruning roses
In most areas, bush roses can be pruned during a Full Moon phase in winter, after they become dormant. If you have removed dead wood, suckers and crossed branches during the growing season, little winter pruning will be required. Where frosts are common, or rose canker (dieback) has been a problem, it is better to prune bush roses as late as possible – at the first sign of new growth when sap flow is higher. Then prune, with slanting cuts, during First Quarter phase to encourage strong growth. This will help reduce dieback because the fungus that causes rose canker lives on rose thorns. Roses are more susceptible to infection by this fungus when sap flow is slow and pruning cuts heal slowly. Careful pruning is the only way to avoid dieback, as there is no treatment for the fungus.
Climbing roses that are floribunda or hybrid tea sports can be pruned at the same time as bush roses, but climbers that only flower in spring are pruned before a Full Moon, after flowering.

One thought on “Winter pruning

  1. Thank you for the informative read. Keeping methylated spirits around when pruning is advice that should be heeded by everyone.

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