4 Plants That Will Put Your Japanese Secateurs To Good Use

Date Posted: 17 March 2021

With christmas long behind us and spring just at the tips of our fingers, it’s likely that novice and experienced gardeners alike will be dying to put their hand tools to good use. Perhaps you received something special for the holidays, or maybe you let your trusty garden tools hibernate over the winter. 

Whatever your situation or level of experience, chances are you’ll either be making room for some new plants this spring, or you’ll be uncovering up whatever is hiding under the winter frost and snow. And even though there are plenty of plants that require no upkeep at all, it’s more likely that there will be some tidying up involved in your little slice of paradise. 

So if you’ve been gifted a new pair of gardening secateurs this year, here are just five examples of Japanese plants that you may choose to grow or may already have in your garden that will require at least some pruning throughout the year. 


Wisteria is an absolutely stunning climbing shrub that provides a burst of colour into your garden, without acting delicate or fragile. In fact, the strong woody stems can resemble little tree trunks over time, providing a sturdy foundation for this rampant climber. It’s certainly a shrub that will transform any property. 

However, in order to bear the fruit that is the beautiful flowers that this shrub can provide, pruning is an essential part of its upkeep. The shoots will simply tangle and produce something resembling a bird’s nest and produce next to no flowers if you do not prune them. 

Luckily, this is a plant that only needs pruning once to twice a year to keep it nice and healthy. Simply tie a new growth and use your Japanese secateurs to cut the remaining long stems back. This is of course, in addition to any dead or damaged shoots or flowers that may have remained from last time. Make sure you look out for any side shoots that may cause issues later on down the line and interfere with the main stems. 

Your aim when pruning wisteria is to create a strong framework where the flowers can easily grow. Luckily, your Japanese secateurs can handle pruning tasks with stems, shoots and branches of all different thicknesses. 


The Japanese maple is a stunning addition to every garden. Particularly in the autumn, this tree shows its true variety of colour, creating a blanket of warm and rich earthy tones to make sure that your garden looks like an autumnal wonderland. For this reason, they are often used as focal points in a garden, especially a Japanese one. As such, you want to ensure that it is looking its best regardless of the time of year. 

A Japanese maple can cause a few different problems that will require some pruning to keep your trees looking beautiful. Firstly, if it is planted in an area that is too sunny, it can become foliated and lose its natural form and elegance. However, removing this excess growth too early will actually only encourage the maple to do more of the same. The same issue can be found where the maple is limited in how tall it is allowed to grow. 

Luckily for your workload, even if not for your patience, you should wait until your maple has aged somewhat before you start any serious pruning work to reduce that brush. Once you have a mature tree on your hands, then you can break out the secateurs and start the thinning process. 

Depending on what you find easiest, pruning is best done selectively in either the summer or the winter - the winter gives you the advantage of seeing the excess branches and the structure of the tree, whereas thanks to the foliage in the summer, you’re better able to ascertain how much actually needs to be trimmed and thinned. 

While a maple doesn’t need grooming very often, it can be a tricky task. First of all, you should never remove more than a fifth of the maple’s crown or remove more than a quarter of the foliage from any single branch as this will starve the tree. In addition, no branch that is more than half the diameter of its parent stem should be trimmed. 

Overall, however, you want your Japanese maple to have overlapping layers by separating the branches and making sure they don’t touch each other. That way, you’ll get that classic and desired look that have heads turning for the right reasons. 


Japanese junipers are evergreen shrubs that are known as a ‘set and forget’ sort of addition to your garden thanks to their low maintenance attributes. The shrub has an adaptable nature and only requires full sun to really thrive, giving your garden that pop of colour all year round. 

Blue green foliage and elegant prostrate stems characterize this juniper plant. The dwarf, evergreen shrub makes a perfect addition to most sites with an adaptable nature and its only main requirement is full sun. As an added bonus, deer seldom bother this needled plant and it remains green throughout the winter.

However, just because this is a wonderfully low maintenance plant, does not mean that it does not respond well to some secateur therapy now and then to keep it in top condition. In fact, pruning an overgrown juniper will do it a world of good and keep it looking healthy and vibrant. 

While it is always better to keep your junipers under control and not let them overgrow, there are ways of somewhat mitigating the outcome, even if you may never be able to successfully get the shrub down to your desired size. Thanks to the ‘dead zone’ that can be found in the centre of most juniper brushes (areas that produce no new growth), you can never prune your bush to a smaller size than the size of its dead zone or no new foliage will grow. 

However, trimming and cutting any overgrown, overlapping or switching out branches can be a great start in managing the size of your juniper if it has gotten out of control. Just be mindful of that dead zone and remember to cut branches from the base to avoid leaving a bare patch!


Japanese azaleas, or Satsuki Azaleas, have been a staple in Japanese gardens since the 12th century and it is easy to see why. They are beautiful, evergreen plants that also produce a gorgeous variety of coloured flowers. These shrubs start to bloom in mid-May, tentatively at first, but often continue blooming all the way through to July. 

Once again, this is a fairly low maintenance plant and unlike some of the other plants on this list, it won’t need regular pruning in order to thrive and live a healthy life. In fact, all an azalea needs in order to thrive is well drained soil and a limited exposure to sunlight. 

Of course, just because something doesn’t need pruning in order to grow, doesn’t mean you might not want to spruce it up and keep it looking its best. After all, unless you’re going for the untamed look, no one wants to deal with an uneven or overgrown shrub, regardless of how healthy it is. 

If you do want to keep your azaleas looking neat and tidy, make sure to wait until the blooming season is over and don’t let your secateurs take over. Delicate pruning goes a lot further than being heavy handed and cutting back too much. Regularly removing wilted flowers will also help in directing growth towards new branches, making your plant as healthy and as strong as possible.