Gardening: Cuttings: Weekend work

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The Independent Online
CUT OUT branches of over-exuberant shrub roses, such as R. gallica 'Complicata', as soon as they have finished flowering. The neatest way is to remove whole stems at the base of the rose, rather than butcher it all over. Regular pruning of these kinds of roses is not essential, but removing some of the old wood each year forces them to produce new clean growth, often more productive than the old.

Other shrubs that have finished flowering, such as the pineapple broom, Cytisus battandieri, and philadelphus can also be cut back now. Again, the general outline of the shrub will be better if you neatly remove whole branches.

Start feeding tomato plants grown in pots or Gro-bags as soon as the second truss of fruit has set. Remove side-shoots on all but bush varieties. Keep the main stem tied in to a support.

Give cordon, espalier and fan-trained apple and pear trees a summer pruning, shortening all the lateral branches shooting from main stems to about three leaves above the basal cluster of growth. Prune stone fruit such as plums and cherries, cutting out diseased and dead branches and thinning out over-vigorous growth.

Propagate azaleas (both deciduous and evergreen) the easy way, by layering low-growing branches. Make a nick in the underside of each likely looking stem, scrape a shallow slit in the earth directly underneath each nicked stem, and pin them in position in their trenches with a piece of bent wire.

Fill in the trench with soil and firm it down carefully. Remove any flower buds that form on the layered shoots next spring. Layers should have rooted by autumn next year.

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