Proper prun­ing keeps roses bloom­ing and healthy

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - Of­ten cer­tain STORY AND PHOTOS BY MAU­REEN GILMER Prun­ing is vi­tal Hy­brid tea cutting Af­ter sum­mer prun­ing Mau­reen Gilmer is an au­thor, hor­ti­cul­tur­ist and land­scape de­signer. Learn more at

All over Amer­ica, yards have older hy­brid tea roses lan­guish­ing for lack of care. These are of­ten spec­i­mens planted any time from a decade to a cen­tury ago. They’re dis­cov­ered when you buy or rent a house, of­ten mirac­u­lously still alive but not very pro­duc­tive. If you’re handy with clip­pers, there’s an easy way to make these plants more pro­duc­tive with just a lit­tle reg­u­lar sum­mer prun­ing. It will re­ju­ve­nate them into bloom­ing con­tin­u­ously all the way to frost. Here are the basics:


Tea roses are fast-grow­ing plants that pro­duce basal canes just above the graft and new flow­er­ing wood on the growth tips. Each time flow­er­ing wood branches, the new shoot will be smaller in di­am­e­ter than its pre­de­ces­sor. The smaller di­am­e­ter stems pro­duce only small roses that dan­gle due to their weight. The rule of thumb for prun­ing your flow­er­ing wood is to keep the stems to the di­am­e­ter of a pen­cil, and no smaller for strong stem, up­right cut flow­ers.


Prun­ing flow­er­ing wood also is a process of shap­ing your rose. The ideal is an open top vase shape that al­lows light and air to reach in­side the plant to dis­cour­age dis­ease. For this rea­son ev­ery cut you make should sup­port this by fac­ing out­ward when­ever pos­si­ble. Over time this re­sults in a larger, health­ier plant over­all.


Each tea rose flower may be fol­lowed by a fruit or hip if it’s pol­li­nated. Flower grow­ers do not let these de­velop by cutting their flow­ers of­ten to bring in­doors. When they cut, en­ergy is sent into new buds to help them de­velop more quickly. That’s why rose peo­ple are al­ways out there cutting each spent flower promptly, and when they cut it they use a spe­cial method.

Trace the spent flower down its stem to the par­ent branch. Count three nodes (small dots or bumps, not thorns) up from the joint and make the cut there. Ide­ally the bud should face out­ward or in a de­sir­able di­rec­tion. If it’s bound for con­flict, go to the sec­ond or fourth bud to get a prop­erly ori­ented new stem. This three-node method is uni­ver­sal so you can’t make a mis­take dur­ing the grow­ing sea­son.

Most of these tea roses were grafted, which means the scion va­ri­ety such as “Peace” is grafted onto an­other rose called the root­stock. This root­stock was of­ten an old vig­or­ous red ram­bler. When you see red roses or small white ones that re­sem­ble ap­ple blos­soms amid more spec­tac­u­lar flow­ers on the same plant, know that is a root­stock sucker. They lit­er­ally suck up all the nu­tri­tion and wa­ter, deny­ing your va­ri­etal scion wood. Trim them off. A healthy rose pro­duces new canes just above this graft union. Al­low these to flour­ish into re­place­ments for old dy­ing ones.

Make a point of re­mov­ing any and all dead wood, twigs or “canes” through­out the whole plant. Re­move them by cutting back to liv­ing wood so the wound can heal and pro­duce new re­place­ment growth. If in doubt about liv­ing or dead, nick the bark be­fore you cut. If it’s green un­derneath, it’s alive.

Al­ways keep your rose pruners ra­zor sharp. The cleaner your cut, the faster it heals and the less dieback re­sults. If you must cut a big green cane dur­ing the heat of sum­mer, dab some craft paint on the open wound for a ban­dage to pre­vent dieback. Use long han­dled lop­pers to cut out the big old canes and a short prun­ing saw is per­fect for rot­ting stumps of dead sec­tions.

Even though roses slow down in the late sum­mer heat, they can be coaxed to pro­duce some blooms with these tech­niques. To get great per­for­mance out of ex­ist­ing roses in your yard, let cof­fee or cock­tail re­mind you to go out and snip each day. The roses will flour­ish un­der this care, turn­ing old ne­glected plants in the great color spot of your gar­den with­out spend­ing a penny.

hy­brid teas are not pruned prop­erly when planted with other types of roses with dif­fer­ent needs.

roses of­fer the widest range of flow­ers with vivid hues.

to keep­ing con­tainer or pa­tio-grown tea roses look­ing good all sum­mer.

and bloom. your hy­brid tea roses, they should fill out

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