For some reason, the chore of pruning roses often creates feelings of anxiety with gardeners. Like anything else however the more you practice the better you will become. Your first step is to learn a few basic skills and knowledge, then take it from there. I’ve simplified the process to help take some of of the mystery away and help you get pruning your roses to create finer looking shrubs with better blooms.
WHAT TOOLS DO I NEED:
- Buy a quality pair of pruning shears that have both of the blades curved. This will prevent the stems from being crushed.
- For larger canes you will need a pruning saw to give you clean cuts.
- Lopping shears have long handles and will help with thicker canes.
- Strong, leather gloves that are puncture proof.
WHEN SHOULD I PRUNE:
- Generally you prune your rose just before it breaks dormancy in the spring, after the last frost. This may be early in the year for warm climates, and as late as April for colder climates.
- Do not prune in the fall, as it will encourage new growth that will be tender and more susseptible to winter kill.
WHAT SHOULD I CUT:
- First of all cut away all of the dead wood from winter kill. It will appear as blackened stems. If your winter was severe, there could be considerable die back.
- Remove any diseased canes.
- Remove any weak, twiggy growth and canes that are growing across each other. This will open your rose up, keeping the center open for air circulation.
HOW FAR DOWN SHOULD I CUT:
- Cut the cane until you notice the center pith is creamy-white and not brown. This is healthy tissue and the cane will be green.
- Remove all suckers, these are growths from the main stem below the bud union.
MAKING GOOD PRUNING CUTS:
When pruning roses it is all about the cuts. Follow these principles:
- Cuts should be made at a 45 degree angle, about 1/4 inch above a leaf axle with a dormant eye ( Find the dormant bud eye. Look at the cane and find a slight swelling, looks a bit like a pimple. This is where the cane will produce a new stem).
- Choose an eye on the outside of the cane and slope the cut downwards.
- After pruning remove any remaining leaves from the canes and clean up all debris from around the shrub. Discard, do not add to your compost. This will help reduce the chance of insects and fungi to survive the winter.
- Avoid fertilizing your roses for about 3 weeks after pruning.
- Practice will make perfect. Your roses will develop better form and increase their flower production. New growth will be encouraged with bigger, better rose blooms.
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