As deciduous plants in your garden head into winter dormancy, this is the time to take a close look at the appearance, quantity and performance of your fruit, berries and roses. A winter maintenance programme is all that is needed to ensure that lumps, soot and poor performance do not happen next year and will also ease your work load in summer.
1. In May it is time to start by pruning. On a still, dry day, with clean sharp tools, remove any dead, diseased wood/branches and remove all mummified fruit, this includes rosehips on roses.
2. Use a lime sulphur spray and spray the whole plant from top to bottom. Make sure that you can see the spray running into the crevices, cracks and crutches of the tree/bush. Lime Sulphur spray is the most effective treatment to combat fungal diseases and can force trees into dormancy by defoliation. This spray also helps to control many over-wintering pests such as mites, insects and their egg laying sites and it removes lichen and moss from deciduous plants. Three to four weeks after you have completed your sulphur spray, your plants should be completely nude. Collect the fallen leaves and burn or destroy them; do not use these for leaf mulch. Do not use sulphur sprays on apricots, evergreen plants or citrus, and never mix with any other sprays. Never use on plants with new leaf growth, and don’t use within three weeks of any spraying oils.
3. Three weeks are the lime sulphur you can spray with liquid copper which is a fungicide that will create a barrier that is effective against bacteria and fungi such as fireblight, bacterial canker, bacterial spot, cherry leaf spot, leaf curl, and black spot. It also helps to seal any pruning wounds to stop infection. Apply before flower or leaf buds open.
4. One week later you can apply a spraying oil such as Conqueror Oil or equivalent. Coat the plant so that you can see the spray running down the stems and leaves. Spraying oil suffocates any overwintering insects that may be hiding in the nooks and crannies of your branches. Apply before any flowers open. This spray combination is excellent for all citrus trees so include them in your spray programme. Repeat this step within 10-21 days.
5. After petal fall (all flowers have dropped their petals), repeat step three, then wait one week and repeat step four.
6. Do any further pruning needed on a clear, sunny day, removing old canes from roses and brambles. Prune, thin and shape apple, pear and plum trees.
• Do not prune peach, apricot, or nectarine trees in winter.