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Fine-tune your pruning


July is here – the middle of winter.

The deciduous trees are dropping leaves later than normal as autumn was quite warm.

Don’t be frustrated when the leaves drop and please don’t dump then in the bin his is nature’s way of rejuvenating the soil.

If composting isn’t your thing, just leave them to mulch under the tree that has given them life.

Although July is pruning time, don’t be overzealous – once cut, it can’y be glued back on.

Take care not to prune spring-flowering deciduous trees and shrubs that have been cultivated for their blossom.

Prune back Crepe Myrtle, being careful not to prune back to last year’s pruning nodes.

Fuschia, grapes, westringia, plumbago, viburnum, photinias and hydrangea all enjoy a winter prune.  Don’t worry too much about pruning hydrangea, they should simply be pruned back to stems where there are two eyes beginning to shoot, remembering when fertilising that flower colour can be affected by what you apply.

For example, hydrangea are affected by alkalinity and acidity, which play a vital role in the flowers colour.

Cow manure, which is acidic, will encourage deeper shades, whilst poultry manure creates lighter shades of pink and mauve.

White hydrangeas are unaffected by this fertilising and should remain white. Maintaining the present colour can be achieved by using a fertiliser such as Bounceback, which has a neutral pH.

Deciduous trees and shrubs are available in nurseries now in their dormant state.

Once planted, the most important criteria to remember is watering.

When the warm weather begins, the sap begins to rise, and bud swell occurs – new plants should not be allowed to dry out.

One of my favourite plants are hippeastrum, which should be separated now – plant out large low bowls to flower in spring.

Deciduous fruit trees can be prone to leaf curl when new growth emerges. Apply copper oxychloride during the last two weeks of July and again during the first two weeks of August. The best hint I can give readers is not to forget watering during winter as winds dry out the soil.

Apply peat moss around the surface of shallow rooted azaleas and camellias.

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