July is known as the pruning month in the garden. Do not miss out on this opportunity that comes once a year to enhance the appearance and performance of your plants in the growing season that lays ahead of us.

Deciduous plants (plants that lose their leaves in winter) are easier to prune before they produce leaves in spring as the bare stems makes it easier to see the actual structure of the plant.

Know the difference between pruning and cutting branches

After lockdown we all realised how essential hairdressers are in our appearances and moods. Similarly plants require a good “hair cut” (pruning) once a year. Most people are afraid of pruning plants – often to the detriment of plant well-being. This is often due to a lack of sufficient pruning knowledge.

Cutting branches from a plant is not pruning. Pruning is a science and an art that requires skilled horticultural practices. Pruning is the term used for the selective removal of plant stems – you need to know what to cut, where to cut, when to cut and how to cut it.

A good understanding of the botany of plants enables us to professionally prune your plants for a variety of benefits. Why not attend one of our pruning workshops where we will teach you how to prune your plants correctly.

Problematic plants are often the results of unskilled gardeners who pruned plants incorrectly or not at all. Plants that have been pruned incorrectly may take several years of corrective pruning (and often surgery) to correct the structure of the plant.

Proper pruning leads to attractive, healthy plants and have the following advantages:

  • Pruning promotes the development of a strong framework of branches. A well-shaped structure will withstand weather conditions and maintain safe conditions for humans
  • Plant sizes can be reduced and restricted. Plants can also be pruned into specific shapes though the art of Topiary.
  • Damaged stems can be repaired and sick and diseased parts can be removed to reduce the spread of pests and diseases in the garden
  • Maintain desired cultivars. Pruning will also open the crown to allow for light and wind to pass. Improve fruit quality.
  • Pruning stimulates new vigorous growth that rejuvenates the plant. It can also aid in directing the plant’s growth into a particular direction.
  • Pruning (with a combination of the right fertilizer) can improve the display of flowers and stimulate better fruit production.
Proper pruning leads to attractive and healthy plants.

Why it is important to prune correctly

The stems of trees must be carefully selected when they are still young to encourage a strong and stable tree structure. All too often stems grow into big trunks that can be hazardous and threaten the adjacent architectural structures. The longer trees are left unpruned, the greater the chances of tree surgery will be. This will involve chainsaws and higher maintenance bills which is undesired.

Fruit trees like peaches, mulberries and also grape vines need to be pruned yearly for the production of healthy fruits. Similarly flowering shrubs and roses need to be pruned for an abundance of flowers. Flowering shrubs need to be pruned according to the way they produce flowers. Pruning certain shrubs at the wrong time of the year may results in shrubs not producing flowers.

Choose the correct tools

You will need a good pair of secateurs, loppers (secateurs with long handles) and various sized sawing materials. For larger projects sturdy stepladders and even scaffolding will be required to reach higher branches.

Sharp tools are essential to ensure a neat clean cut. A good disinfectant is needed to disinfect the cutting parts of pruning equipment to prevent the spread of diseases from one plant to the other. Larger wounds on the plants need to be treated or mostly left to heal naturally. Lime Sulphur can be sprayed if no leaves are present on the plant. Protective clothing and safety equipment is essential in ensuring the safety of the garden expert.

Choose the tools most suitable for the job, keep them sharp, and use them safely.

Choose the tools most suitable for the job, keep them sharp, and use them safely.

Some tips on pruning

  1. Start by removing any dead or diseased wood.  
  2. Remove any problematic or undesired branches
  3. Shape the plant into a desirable structure

Please note – The major difference between pruning roses and fruit trees is that fruit tree stems should mostly be removed as a whole and be cut back to a lower branch. When pruning roses the stems are mostly cut to remove the top end of the stem.

For professional pruning, please contact Mercury Designs for more information

David Viljoen and the Mercury Design staff are experienced in many horticultural fields – including pruning. Contact us in time for a professional pruning session and don’t miss this year’s pruning period.

David Viljoen is well known for his wide range of gardening and interior design topics. Why not book David for a lecture and demonstration on pruning this year.

Contact the office to make a booking with David Viljoen.

Other specialist services off this month:

July is also an excellent time to transplant and move plants within the garden. Uprooting plants is another complicated process but great success can be achieved if done correctly.

Contact details:

Office tel nr: 011 894 2430 | email: