Pruning Tips for February – The “perfect time” to prune hydrangeas and clematis

Pruning Tips for February – The “perfect time” to prune hydrangeas and clematis

February is a time when most gardeners prepare for spring and do some final winter work (Image: Getty)

February is the last month of winter in the UK, which means there’s plenty of time to finish some gardening before spring arrives.

Pruning is often done in late winter when plant branches and flowers are more visible, meaning it is easier to identify dead or diseased growth.

Many gardeners also prune before spring to encourage new growth that will arrive in the warmer months, as the plants will redirect their energy to healthy buds rather than old branches.

Carol Bartlett, a gardener from the north of England with 25 years’ experience, explained on her blog The Sunday Gardener that February is a good time to get back into the garden and start pruning certain plants.

“In fact,” she wrote, “this is the perfect time because the garden is waking up, and as the new growth emerges, it can be difficult to cut back all the old growth, without damaging the new growth.”

Read more: Three popular garden plant experts warn that you should not prune now to avoid damage


Flowers that can be pruned now are hydrangeas, wisteria and certain groups of clematis (Image: Getty)

What to prune in the garden in February?

February is “the big pruning month,” according to Carroll, but she stresses that it’s important for gardeners to know the difference between pruning and pruning plants.

“Cutting back is different from pruning,” she wrote. “When you prune you remove all of last year’s growth, whereas pruning is a way of shaping a plant or shrub to produce the desired growth.”

Flowers that bloom in summer can be cut and pruned now. However, it’s important to know which shrubs are considered summer flowers, because pruning spring flowers will make your garden look bare and barren in the spring.

“Spring-flowering shrubs and climbers make flowers on last year’s wood, so if you prune before flowering you will cut off the branches where the flowers would have formed. The result will be no flowers,” Carol explained.

During February and early March, you can prune hydrangeas, wisteria and certain groups of clematis.

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Only the second group and third group of jasmine flowers can now be pruned (Image: Getty)

Clematis pruning

The most important step in pruning a jasmine plant is to know what type of jasmine plant you have in your garden, as only the first group and the second and third groups should be left alone at the present time.

There are three types of pruning groups for jasmine plants, and the first group blooms in winter and spring. If your jasmine plant is currently flowering, it is best to leave it alone for now.

The second group of jasmines are large flowers that bloom in early summer and sometimes spring, and without pruning now they will likely not produce many flowers this year.

Carol explained that the second group of clematis should be pruned back a little at this time of year. Simply prune off weak or damaged growth and cut the stem back to just above the buds.

The third group of jasmine plants bloom in late summer and fall, and if not pruned regularly will become tangled and overgrown. Cut these climate plants back to 2 feet from the ground in February to ensure flowering later in the year.


Wisteria is easy to prune as you only need to control its growth and avoid cutting its main structure (Image: Getty)

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Pruning wisteria

Wisteria needs pruning twice a year, according to Carroll, once in late winter and then again in summer to keep climbing vines under control.

Carroll said pruning wisteria is easy as the risk of damaging the plant is minimal. “We often think that pruning wisteria is difficult, but it helps to know that wisteria is a very hardy climber and, fortunately, is difficult to kill by pruning,” she wrote.

All you have to do is make sure not to cut the hard, woody branches of the flower, which are the main structure of the plant.

“In some ways, winter pruning is easier because you can see the frame of the wisteria,” Carol wrote. “Winter pruning is best done in February on a balmy day.

“In winter pruning, you need to cut the shoots back to 3/4 buds and thin them back to 8/10cm (3-4 inches). Aim to leave the main plant frame in place and prune the shoots sticking out from the main frame to encourage them to form spurs.”


Knowing whether your hydrangeas are old wood or new wood is the key to pruning them (Image: Getty)

Hydrangea pruning

Hydrangeas are very easy to prune, but you need to know if your hydrangeas are old wood or new wood before you get started.

Flowers such as mopheads and lacecaps grow on old wood, which means the shrub has already made its flower buds last year and will bloom in the spring. Pruning old woody hydrangeas aggressively will result in no flowers this year as you will cut off the buds.

“Just cut a few centimeters back to a bud,” Carol wrote. “Don’t prune too hard, although you can remove weak, leggy growth.

New woody hydrangeas such as paniculata, which are cone-shaped hydrangeas, can be pruned more aggressively in late winter, according to Carroll.

“This means that all flowers are produced on new stems that grow in the same year of flowering,” she wrote. When you prune panicles, cut back the frame to enable the shrub to achieve new growth.

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