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Prune summer-flowering shrubs25 February 2013
Prune summer-flowering shrubs this month to make sure they put on their best display later this season. Some spectacular garden performers come into this category, including the butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii, hardy fuchsias, and musk mallows (Lavatera), all available from your favourite garden centre.
All these shrubs bear flowers on growth produced this year, so you're aiming to encourage them to make as many fresh new shoots as possible. This means quite a hard prune, so don't be too timid.
Start by removing vompletely any dead branches, and any very weak or spindly growth. Then cut back last year's growth to a point two buds away from the main woody trunk of the plant. This will look quite brutal, leaving you with little more than a stump, but don't worry: it'll quickly shoot up again.
Fuchsias are a little different, as they tend to grow from a dense clump at ground level. Snip out every stem right down to the ground: you'll also let air in to the heart of the plant where it's often clogged up with debris.
Finish off with an application of slow-release fertiliser such as pelleted chicken manure and a generous mulch, setting it up perfectly to flower its socks off all summer long.