Monday 18 December 2017

Readers' questions

Marie Staunton

Q Is this the right time to prune an ornamental cherry tree?

ANever prune a cherry tree in spring. They hate it and they will never forgive you for it. They suffer from silver-leaf disease, which attacks the tree if wounded by pruning in the dormant season. Wait until it is actively growing in summertime, let it flower and then give it a prune.

Cherry trees are such a great addition to the garden, giving you beautiful flowers and wonderful leaf colour. Some even produce fruit and others can be slightly scented, so treat them well and they will reward you handsomely.

QHow should I prune my roses to encourage them to flower more?

AThe smart answer to that is to let your worst enemy do it for you, as roses respond so much better to a good old-fashioned hard prune, especially bush roses. Give them the equivalent of a short back and sides; they will love you for it!

If there is a rule to follow, it would be to create an open shape with the stems. This encourages good air circulation.

Having three or four good stems at the base of the plant pruned back to around 15 to 20cm before the middle of March will ensure you have a happy flowering plant.

Climbers flower on the current season's growth, so, when pruning, reduce the lateral stems to about a third of their length and this will ensure flowering stems the next summer.

Watch out for rubbing stems, as they chaff and will provide ideal conditions for disease to enter, which is not good news for your plant.

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