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Pruning queries

Last post 17-09-2011 2:16 PM by Keen Fingers. 3 replies.

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  • 08/09/2011 11:37 AM
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    Dear all I am new to gardening, since buying my first house a year ago. I did nothing with the garden until about February of this year. It has quite an established garden, and I think I've managed to identify the majority of things in the garden. I just need some advice on how to care for them, now that the autumn has set in. Rather than post lots of separate things, I'll list the plants and anyone is then free to reply. I have the following: Peony Sarah Bernhardt - I have cut off the flowers and now just have lots of leaves. Do I leave these until they have died and then cut them off? Where do I cut back to, as the main stems are thick and very healthy-looking. I think this is cut back in autumn? Lupins - These have a large main trunk of stems. Do you cut only the foliage and associated stems back to ground level and leave the rest of the plant? Is this done in autumn or spring? Weigela praecox variegata - I cut this back in spring as soon as it had flowered. I have lots of new growth. Only the base has since flowered but I will leave these on the plant and wait until the whole plant flowers next spring. Montbretia - orange flowers at the moment. Are the spikes of foliage cut back, or are they left? Hebe Andersonii Variegata - Purple blooms have now died. Can I just leave these? Some of the variegated foliage is actually reverting to green. When do I cut this back? Sedum "Autumn Joy" - just coming into flower. Presumably these are just left. Unfortunately, I have no room to divide these, and put them somewhere else, so they are starting to split. Magnolia stellata - this actually double-flowered, once in spring, and also a little in late summer. Presumably a weather thing! Don't think there's any pruning required? Would appreciate your advice. Best wishes. KF.

  • 09/09/2011 12:21 AM
    • AlexS
    • Reading
    • 06 Sep 2009
    • 581
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    Hi Keen Fingers,

    Lots of questions! Peonies are very tough and will survive most of our mistakes. Wait till the leaves die back naturally, or cut them off earlier if you wish. If you wait, you'll find the whole of the leaves and stems will go brown and lifeless and fall naturally.

    Cut the lupin flower stems down to the ground, clear away the old leaves once they die back.

    Weigelas typically have their main flush of flowers in May/June, after which you do any pruning. I like to remove one third to one fourth of the oldest stems each year to keep the plant young and vigorous. There are usually a few flowers from time to time over the summer whether you prune or not. Sounds like you're doing the right thing.

    Montbretia will self-seed if they like their location, so you may want to cut off the flower spikes before the seeds drop, especially as the bulbs increase like mad anyway. Seedlings generally take a couple of years to flower. I'd suggest leaving the foliage in place over the winter as it provides a bit of frost protection to the bulbs which aren't reliably hardy.

    Hebe Andersonii: remove unvariegated parts as soon as possible, cutting out green stems completely. It's amazing how fast an unvariegated bit can take over the whole plant: it grows much faster than the rest. If you find the faded flowerheads unsightly you can lightly prune them off.  This hebe is tender, so you could have frost damage on it by the end of winter.  Mid spring is probably the best time to do any remedial pruning, as soon as danger of hard frost has past.

    The bees will love your sedums. If they're getting too big, once they've flowered, dig 'em up and break off and replant some healthy pieces and discard the rest. These are a classic candidate for the 'Chelsea Chop' - about the time of the Chelsea Flower Show, cut down the emerging flower spikes by half, and you'll get flowers slightly later, but more importantly on shorter flower stems, so less likely to fall apart.

    And you're right, leave your magnolia stellata alone, don't prune it if you don't have to.

    Cheers, Alex


  • 10/09/2011 06:16 PM
    • jon jon
    • stratford on avon
    • 18 Sep 2009
    • 299
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    With Montbretia if they get too crowded they will not flower,dig up , then replant new corms.discard the old ones ,new ones will be on top of the older ones,they do increase rapidly.  

  • 17/09/2011 02:16 PM
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    Thanks. I think I made a mistake with the lupins. I cut all of the foliage down to the ground so only have old stems now which have browned at ground leve. I have another lupin plant. I will cut the flowering stem down to the ground as instructed. Should I then leave the other foliage to die naturally before clearing away? Will it just fall?