Q&A: When is the best time to prune climbing plants?

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Q: We have a lovely Actinidia but it is getting bit out of hand. When is the best time to prune it and how do we go about it?

A: Actinidia kolomitka is the most commonly-grown form of these deciduous climbers and it’s instantly recognisable because of its heart-shaped foliage splashed with cream and pink. It has become a bit of a must-have plant, ideal for a sunny wall where it can be supported by wire and ties.

The best time to prune a vigorous specimen is in late winter or early spring before any new growth has started to appear. Shorten stems by up to half of their length, back to a healthy bud and growth.

With established plants, where many stems tend to grow into one another, simply cut out all the tangled growth.

Newly-planted specimens are best pruned by cutting back growth to a couple of feet from the ground. Choose half-a-dozen of the strongest-looking shoots to form the basis for future growth.

The following year, cut back new growth by half to two-thirds of its length and remove any weak growth. The idea is to encourage a strong framework and healthy stems.