‘Best time’: Monty Don shares pruning tips for February – including roses and clematis

Monty Don shares tips for pruning roses

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Monty Don shares monthly gardening advice on his blog, including jobs gardeners should be doing that month. For the month of February, the Gardeners’ World expert recommended pruning as well as sowing tomato seeds and mulching.

Monty wrote: “There are a number of pruning jobs that can be done in February if you live in the south of the UK but which can keep perfectly well into March if you live further north or you simply do not have time.

“Always use really sharp tools for pruning.

“Not only does it make life much easier but it also makes for much cleaner cuts and therefore causes less damage to the plant, sharp tools are also much safer.

“Always use a tool that is operating within its capability, so never strain.”

Monty recommended using loppers for stems too thick for easy cutting with secateurs and a sharp saw.

He added: “Japanese ones are superb.”

The gardening expert warned gardeners to never paint over pruning woods as this seals in potential disease.

Gardeners should leave them to scar over naturally.

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Monty continued: “Always cut back to something. Do not snip at random but make your cut just above a bud or a leaf or the joint of another stem.”

Many flowers can be pruned in February including clematis and roses.

The expert explained: “Late-flowering clematis can all be pruned hard from the middle of the month.

“All are multi-stemmed. They all flower on growth made in spring so all the previous year’s growth should be cleared away now.

“I always cut down to about two feet from the ground, leaving at least two healthy pairs of buds.”

When it comes to pruning roses, there are three categories to bear in mind.

This includes hybrid teas, shrub roses as well as climbing roses which can be subdivided into true climbers and ramblers.

Monty wrote: “There is a lot of mystique about rose pruning, whereas the reality is that they are all tough shrubs that can take a mauling by anything from secateurs to a flail cutter and bounce bank. 

“Hybrid teas flower on the current season’s wood so they should be pruned hard each spring, removing all wet, damaged or crossing stems first and then pruning the remaining stems to form an open bowl of stubby branches.

“Don’t worry too much about outward sloping cuts but do always cut just above a bud, remember to cut the weakest growth hardest.”

Shrub roses need dry little pruning and Monty recommended a once-over with a hedge trimmer.

The gardening expert also recommended pruning Buddleia davidii, also known as the Butterfly bush in February.

Monty said this month is the “best time” to prune it for those living in the south.

He wrote: “It produces flowers on new growth so if it is cut back hard, just before it begins growing, you will both stimulate extra new shoots and make sure that the shrub has as high a proportion of flower to wood as possible.”

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