Prun­ing sea­son

Win­ter rose prun­ing is around the corner and Alice SpenserHiggs gets some tips from ex­pert Lud­wig Taschner

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JULY is tra­di­tion­ally rose prun­ing month and from the end of this month one can start pre­par­ing for it by sharp­en­ing the prun­ing shears and stock­ing up on fresh com­posts for the beds.

In most ar­eas of Gaut­eng, roses can be pruned from the mid­dle of next month to the begin­ning of Au­gust, ex­cept in very cold ar­eas where prun­ing should be de­layed to the mid­dle or end of Au­gust.

Cut­ting back and tidy­ing up is al­ways ther­a­peu­tic, though some gar­den­ers ap­proach rose prun­ing with trep­i­da­tion.

Rose grower Lud­wig Taschner has a mantra that one should mut­ter un­der one’s breath as you move from rose to rose: “I can’t do it wrong, I can’t do it wrong….”

Taschner main­tains that the rose al­ways sorts it­self out. “Don’t worry about cut­ting to an out­ward grow­ing bud, what an­gle the cut should be or paint­ing each cut with a sealant,” he says.

“What­ever way you cut, the rose it­self will de­cide where it is go­ing to sprout. The only thing to re­mem­ber is to pull off all the re­main­ing leaves so that there is no place for pests to over­win­ter.”

Taschner says the rea­son for prun­ing is to shape and neaten the plant, to en­cour­age strong new growth by re­mov­ing dead, old and dis­eased growth, and to en­cour­age the pro­duc­tion of more flow­ers. Those that ben­e­fit most from prun­ing are hy­brid tea, flori­bunda and bush types of English and Nos­tal­gia roses.

For gar­den­ers who want to fi­nesse their prun­ing, Taschner sug­gests three dif­fer­ent modes of prun­ing — light, mod­er­ate and se­vere — ac­cord­ing to the space avail­able and grow­ing con­di­tions.

Light prun­ing is best for bushes that re­ceive spo­radic at­ten­tion or have not per­formed well, pos­si­bly due to com­pacted soil, shady con­di­tions or com­pet­ing plants. Cut the rose bush back by a third, leav­ing sev­eral side stems on the main branches.

Re­move all the leaves. This forces the de­vel­op­ment of green leaves that give power to the roots.

Medium prun­ing is for gar­den­ers who feel that their roses need more prun­ing than light prun­ing, but that se­vere prun­ing is too ex­treme. Af­ter cut­ting back the rose by a third, in­spect the re­main­ing growth to see which main stems (this sea­son’s growth) or branches (two years or older growth) should re­main. Se­lect three or four suit­able stems and re­duce the length by about a third. Re­move or shorten re­main­ing side stems and forks.

Se­vere prun­ing is suit­able for roses that are planted very close to­gether, or ones that grew very tall last sea­son. This is also the best method for flori­bunda roses, ex­cept Ice­berg.

Only prune the bushes se­verely if you in­tend to en­rich the soil af­ter prun­ing and if there is a reg­u­lar pro­gramme of wa­ter­ing and fer­til­is­ing the roses dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son. Cut the rose back as you would for light and mod­er­ate prun­ing but shorten the re­main­ing stems to 40cm. Re­move or shorten re­main­ing side stems and forks.

For Ice­berg and sim­i­lar roses that de­velop new stems from old wood, it is not nec­es­sary to cut out the thicker, ma­ture stems. Just trim and thin out the bush.

Prune minia­ture roses and ground­cover roses with hedge clip­pers, trim­ming them back to about 30cm from the ground.

Stan­dard roses are treated like a bush rose that is suspended in the air. Cut back all stems and branches to be­tween 30cm and 50cm of the crown or bud union and then re­move all the older wood and twigs.

Re­move the old stems from climb­ing roses and trim the re­main­ing stems. Po­si­tion the stems as hor­i­zon­tally as pos­si­ble to en­cour­age sprout­ing. Climb­ing Her­itage roses are only trimmed af­ter flow­er­ing in spring.

Shorten the canes of Pa­narosa and Spire roses and they will flower very well in Oc­to­ber.

Af­ter prun­ing, re­new the soil with com­post and or­ganic ma­te­rial. This de­ter­mines the per­for­mance for the next sea­son.

There are three modes of prun­ing; light, mod­er­ate and more se­vere. Light prun­ing is for roses spaced well apart, whereas se­vere prun­ing is for closely planted roses. Heavy prun­ing the pre­vi­ous win­ter re­sulted in a bushier Ice­berg.

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