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Tips for Pruning Jobs in the February Garden

February might be the coldest, grimmest month in the garden but later on this month, the early narcissi start making an appearance in gardens and the winter flowering shrubs, such as the Daphnes, will soon be full of fragrance and colour.

This is a good month for pruning woody plants. Hardy shrubs that flower on new wood later in the summer, for example the butterfly bush, Buddlejia davidii, can be cut right down hard to the base. It’s amazing just how well shrubs respond to this, putting on rapid growth over the spring and summer months to flower later on in the year. Just ensure you leave a few shoots at the base to form the basic structure of the plant. Use the left over twiggy prunings as supports for plants such as Delphiniums in March.


Wisterias usually flower more freely and regularly if pruned twice a year, once in August and again in February. Simply cut back the growth to two or three buds to ensure that the flowers will not be obscured by leaves. The idea is to have a skeleton frame of well-spaced branches. On an overgrown wisteria, this may require some time and patience, but it is well worth the effort to enjoy the spectacle of flowers later in the year.


Towards the end of February you can prune the late flowering clematis, for example the C. orientalis group or the late flowering C. ‘Jackmanii.’ They may have already started to produce new shoots, so be a little careful when pulling away the old growth from last year. Apart from this, they are very easy to prune: just cut down all the old growth to about 30cm or a foot from the ground. Cut each stem back to just above a healthy bud and give a little feed with an organic fertiliser.

winter-flowering clematis

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