Monty Don lists three shrubs to prune immediately for a flush of blooms and 'extra bright colour'

Monty Don lists three shrubs to prune immediately for a flush of blooms and 'extra bright colour'

Royal Horticultural Society

Royal Horticultural Society
Solen Le Net

By Solen Le Net

Published: 16/03/2024

- 09:55

Three shrubs need gentle thinning to enhance their flowering performance in the coming weeks

With March signalling the beginning of Spring, gardeners will see their to-do lists grow significantly in the coming weeks.

The chief aim in the second half of March is to promote new growth as plants exit their dormant state.

Monty Don has outlined a few essential tasks to kickstart the gardening of the year, naming three plants that must be trimmed back now for abundant flowering.

According to British horticulturalists, shrubs and climbers that bloom later in the year require special attention in March. He explained: “The first half of March is the best time to prune any shrubs and climbers that will flower on new growth and in particular late flowering clematis, Roses and Buddleia.

Monty Don and roses

March is a pivotal time for gardeners


“I like to do this when I start to see new shoots appearing but resist the temptation to do so if there is a mild February as the subsequent regrowth can be nipped back by late frost.

“Shrubs such as Cornus, willow and Sambucus, can also cut back hard to encourage fresh shoots whose bark will glow with extra bright colour next winter."

Pruning plants does not simply describe the act of cutting a plant but aims to enhance the flower’s performance.

The shock of cutting the plant sends it into vigorous growth. Getting the timing wrong, however, will have an undesired effect.


Understanding which variety of Clematis you are dealing with is crucial, as the plant is divided into three different varieties, each of which has different pruning needs.

The variety that requires pruning in March falls in group two. The Royal Horticultural Society explained: “Clematis in pruning group two are the large-flowered hybrids that flower in May to June and should be pruned in late winter or early Spring and after the first flush of flowers in summer.


Roses can be pruned in late Winter when growth is just resuming. Most shrubs grow on older wood and are encouraged to develop naturally.

Any prominent side shoots should be shortened to two or three buds. Damaged and crossed branches should also be trimmed.

For optimal results, gardeners should ensure pruning sheers are maintained every four to six weeks, keeping the cutters sharp and clean.


Garden roses

Garden roses should be pruned no later than March



With standard varieties of Buddleia, gardeners can cut through the woody stems using a pair of loppers or a pruning saw. They should aim to trim the plant approximately 30cm above the ground.

“I know that pruning can be the cause of some anxiety but there is only one rule to follow which is always cut back to something, be it a side short or leaf bud,” explained Don.

“Other than that do not worry unduly about outward-facing buds or any such finessing.

“The reason for pruning is to encourage vigorous new growth that will, in turn, produce lots of flowers and in climbs such as the Viticella group clematis, to stop the flowers being produced ever higher and higher up the plant with correspondingly bare lower portions."

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