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Pruning Calendar for Australian Gardeners

Many plants can be pruned during their active growing season to keep them controlled while others should be pruned when they are dormant.

When it comes to pruning in Australia, there are no specific pruning times for the entire country because the right time to prune can vary based on the unique climatic zone you’re in.

Additionally, many plants can be pruned during their active growing season to keep them controlled. However, for others, major pruning should essentially be done when the plants or trees are dormant.

Taking this into account, I’m going to offer some general guidelines on pruning various plants, drawing from both my personal experience and insights from seasoned experts in the gardening industry.

Winter pruning

Many of the fruit trees and other deciduous trees that we grow in our Australian gardens are dormant over winter.

This is the perfect time to prune them and a practice that I have always adopted with my own fruit trees.

Roses are also commonly pruned in winter and this is an annual task that is always on my to-do list. In winter, the roses are dormant and many have dropped most of their foliage. 

Roses Pruning 22 | Plant care

This allows you to easily see the structure of the bush and prune accordingly so that you end up with a nice open framework for new growth.

You also want to prune trees and shrubs that have flowered over summer and into autumn during this time. 

Specific plants to prune over winter include:

  • Peach trees
  • Nectarine trees
  • Apple trees
  • Pear trees
  • Almond trees
  • Berry vines such as raspberries, blackberries and gooseberries
  • Grape vines
  • Roses

Spring Pruning

Some deciduous trees, such as birches, maples and magnolias tend to bleed sap when pruned during their dormant period. Therefore, it’s best to prune these in late spring once they’ve sprouted new leaves.

pruning magnolia 1 | Plant care

At this time, the trees will be in active growth and the pruning wounds will heal quicker. 

Late spring is also the perfect time to prune any trees and shrubs that have already flowered. Pruning directly after flowering is a good practice to adopt and one I normally stick to.

This also includes ornamental winter-flowering plants such as camellias and rhododendrons. These plants should always be pruned directly after they’ve finished flowering.

pruning camellia | Plant care

If you leave the pruning any later, you might be cutting off any new buds that will produce flowers the following year.

Specific plants that should be commonly pruned in spring include:

  • Apricot trees (early)
  • Fig trees (early)
  • Citrus trees such as lemons, limes, mandarins and oranges
  • Rosemary
  • Camellias
  • Rhododendrons
  • Azaleas

Just keep in mind that the fruiting trees on this list should be pruned in early spring to ensure that you’re not cutting off any fruiting buds.

You should also prune your citrus trees once you’ve harvested all the fruit. Take care that you don’t remove any flower buds though as you’ll end up with less fruit. 

My small lime tree is currently producing a lot of flower buds and it’s only August. Therefore, I might only give it a light prune around October to minimise the loss of fruit.

Spring is also the perfect time to give your hedges a good prune, especially if they’ve put on growth over winter. You’ll also need to give them another prune or two during the summer months.

Summer pruning

In summer, many plants will be in active growth. This means that you can easily prune them to help retain their shape and stop them from getting too overgrown.

Pruning during this time of the year also means that pruning cuts will heal quickly and your plants will put on lots of new growth.

Another pruning task you want to do over summer is to deadhead all your flowering shrubs to encourage them to produce more blooms.

rose deadheading | Plant care

I tend to do this consistently with my dahlias and roses. You can also cut the stems down to ground level from your spring flowering bulbs such as bearded iris and daffodils. 

But, remember to leave the foliage alone as this will produce food storage in the bulbs for next year’s flowers.

Autumn pruning

Avoid pruning plants that normally become dormant over winter, during autumn.

While the weather is still mild, this could encourage these plants to put on fresh new growth that may become damaged once the cold weather hits.

I tend to put off any pruning tasks until late autumn once the plants are going into dormancy. This includes pruning my hydrangeas.

General pruning guidelines

Here are some common guidelines about when to prune your plants.

  • Prune fruit and deciduous trees in winter when they’re dormant
  • Prune flowering trees and shrubs once they’ve finished flowering
  • Deadhead flowering shrubs and plants consistently during their flowering period
  • Remove dead or diseased branches at any time of the year
  • Prune your citrus trees after you’ve harvested the fruit
  • Tip pruning can be carried out at any time of the year
  • Avoid pruning during the hottest part of the day to reduce stress
Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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