Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

Here at Wairere we want to assure you that very few plants die from being incorrectly pruned. In fact if you never pruned anything in your garden the plants would still grow – it’s just that you may find after a few years that the neighbours might be starting to use the word ‘jungle’ when referring to your property. Pruning is really just the gardener’s way of trying to exercise some control over nature. There is a vast amount of confusing language and methodology associated with pruning that can sometimes be daunting to both the novice and the experienced gardener. We hope that the following simple steps will help you “make the cut”.

The first cut is the deepest – 7 good reasons to FTFADIA

- Size Control
- To increase air circulation
- To increase light penetration
- To get rid of old, diseased or dead stems or branches
- To remove crossing branches thereby avoiding branch rub
- To establish a strong frame-work for fruiting trees in order to support heavy crops
- Encourage new growth

Timing is everything

- Always prune on a dry day – preferably a warm one. This enables the pruning cuts to seal over quickly and naturally therefore preventing the penetration of pest or disease.

- The right time to prune is often when you have time however there are some specific rules especially relating to fruits trees such as Apricots, Nectarines and Peaches. The majority of hard pruning is done in the winter or early spring e.g. Roses and Deciduous Trees however many shrubs and perennials are pruned directly after flowering. For specific information check our ‘How To’ articles or consult your favourite gardening tome.

^(In New Zealand it is generally recommended that Apricot, Nectarine and Peach trees are Summer pruned to avoid a fungal infection called ‘Silver Leaf’. The fungus enters the plant through broken branches or pruning cuts. Silver-grey leaves, that should be green, are usually the first sign of infection in spring. The fungus is particularly prevalent in mild wet weather.)

Tools for the Job

- Clean sharp Secateurs
- Clean sharp Loppers
- Good quality Pruning Saw
- Disinfectant for dipping or spraying on to tools – especially important when dealing with diseased plant material.

How to Make the Cut

Depending on the size required make each pruning cut just above an outward facing bud. This is where the new growth will develop from.

When removing large branches they should be cut close to a main leader or tree trunk – i.e. a clean cut rather and an amputation ½ way along.

If you are removing diseased material make your cut well below the diseased area remembering to dip your pruning tool in a disinfectant such as ‘Dettol’ or Methylated Spirits before making a new cut.

Translation of Terminology

Bud: - A swollen bump on a branch or stem from which leaves and flowers will develop. It will often show a hint of green when examined closely. Flower buds are usually more rounded than leaf buds. Leaf buds are usually more pointed and flattened than a flower bud.

Spur: - AKA ‘Fruiting Spur’. A stubby, compact growth on a branch or stem that holds a cluster of flower buds that will turn into fruit. It will look more rounded and fatter than a growth bud. Spurs usually appear once a tree is 2 years old or more.

Old Wood: - Branches or stems that have been part of the plant prior to the current season’s growth.

New Wood: - Stems that have developed during the current season’s growth period.

Leader: - The central upright branch that forms the main part of the framework of a tree.

Vase Shape: - Four to five main leaders are allowed to develop from the base of the tree with the centre of the tree left open.

Pyramid Shape: - A tree with an upright central leader with fruiting branches coming off the leader, the tree is pruned to grow wide at the base and narrow at the top.

Laterals: - Young side growth off the main branches or stems.

Wairere Top Tip: - When removing large branches from trees do this in stages as the weight of the whole branch may cause it to break off before the cut is complete and tear the bark off the remaining tree trunk.


Wairere Nursery
826 Gordonton Road, R D 1, Hamilton 3281 Ph: (07) 824 3430 Email: