Winter Pruning in your garden

by | Jan 2024

Winter Pruning

Winter pruning in January and February is a crucial task to promote plant health, encourage growth, and maintain an aesthetically pleasing garden. While winter might seem like a dormant period for many plants, it provides an excellent opportunity to shape and care for your garden.

Fruit Trees

January/February is an ideal time to prune fruit trees, especially apple and pear trees. Remove any dead, diseased, or damaged branches. This helps improve air circulation, reducing the risk of fungal infections. Additionally, thin out crowded branches to allow sunlight to reach all parts of the tree, promoting better fruit production in the upcoming seasons.


Roses benefit from a good prune in January/February. Remove dead or weak wood, cutting just above an outward-facing bud to encourage an open, vase-shaped structure. This enhances air circulation and sunlight penetration, reducing the likelihood of diseases like black spot. Don’t forget to remove any crossing branches to prevent them from rubbing against each other and causing damage.


Winter is an opportune time to prune deciduous shrubs. Cut back overgrown branches to maintain the desired shape and size. Focus on removing any dead or damaged wood. Be cautious with spring-flowering shrubs, as they may have already formed buds, and heavy winter pruning could impact their bloom. Instead, focus on shaping and removing any diseased or crowded growth.


Trimming evergreen shrubs can be done in January/February to control their size and shape. Avoid cutting into old wood, as many evergreens may not regrow from such cuts. Instead, focus on shaping the outer foliage. This helps maintain a neat appearance and prevents the plant from becoming too dense.


For climbers like clematis, prune in January or February to encourage vigorous growth. Remove any dead or weak stems and thin out crowded areas to allow for better air circulation. Some clematis varieties may require different winter pruning techniques, so consult specific guidelines for the type you have in your garden.


Trimming hedges in winter helps maintain their shape and encourages denser growth. Regular winter pruning during the dormant season prevents excessive regrowth and promotes a neat appearance.

General Tips

Always use sharp and clean pruning tools to make precise cuts, reducing the risk of disease transmission. Remove any debris from the garden to prevent the spread of pests and diseases. Lastly, consider the specific needs of each plant species, as winter pruning requirements can vary.

A note on Perennials:

In the past, herbaceous perennials were cut back in the late autumn but these days we recommend leaving until late February or March to give structure for the winter ice seed heads and somewhere for the insects to hibernate. With a lot of the more tender perennials being grown e.g. verbenas and salvias, it helps to protect them through the winter. If you cut a salvia back in the autumn it will die back into the ground and not regrow. But if you leave it to die slowly from the top, thus protecting it’s base, when you prune in March you can cut back to the new shoots at the base.


Winter pruning your garden in January or February sets the stage for a healthy and flourishing garden. This winter task not only addresses immediate concerns but also plays a crucial role in the long-term vitality of your plants.

How we can help

We sell a wide range of high-quality tools including secateurs, loppers, pruning saws, rakes, gardening gloves and everything you may need to help you with your winter pruning and clearing up afterwards. Please do call in and take a look. If you need any advice, we will be delighted to assist on a face-to-face basis at The Nursery.



Matthew Webb, Professional Horticulturalist & owner of The Nursery, Hilperton

The Nursery Garden Centre near Trowbridge is owned and operated by Matthew Webb, a professional horticulturist . Matthew built it from scratch and loves his job, his staff and his customers. Plants are his passion and he adores growing, nurturing and knowing as much as possible about them and then passing on his expert knowledge to staff and customers.