How to prop­erly prune your roses

Antelope Valley Press - - VALLEY LIFE - Desert Gar­dener Neal Weisen­berger

When I prune hy­brid tea, gran­di­flora and flori­bunda type roses, my first step is to cut the en­tire plant off to about three feet tall, ex­cept for tree roses, climb­ing, and minia­ture roses. This al­lows me to see the en­tire plant eas­ily.

The sec­ond step is to re­move the dead, dam­aged and dis­eased branches. (Branches in roses are called canes.) The next step is to re­move suck­ers. Any canes grow­ing below the bud union are called suck­ers. The bud union is the lo­ca­tion (usu­ally at the base of the plant) where you will no­tice a large swelling of the trunk.

I need to re­move any canes that start grow­ing on one side of the plant and grow through the mid­dle. These are called cross­ing branches. I now want to se­lect three to seven canes to leave on the rose bush. I am look­ing for canes that are spaced sym­met­ri­cally around the bush when I look straight down on the bush.

I like about half of the canes to be new wood keep­ing my rose bush re­ju­ve­nated. The newer canes should be thick, healthy green branches. The older canes will have brown stems. All other canes should be re­moved now. The rose bush should look like a vase af­ter this step, mean­ing there should be an open cen­ter with branches all around the edge.

The last step is to re-cut all the re­main­ing canes back be­tween 18 and 24 inches high, just above a plant growth bud. A growth bud is just above a leaf or where a leaf was be­fore it fell off. The bud should be fac­ing out away from the cen­ter of the rose bush.

If the win­ter has been cold and all the leaves have fallen off the rose bush, I try to cut back closer to 18 inches. If the win­ter has been warmer and there are still leaves left on the plant, I cut back closer to the 24 inches or even 30 inches. So far this year I will be prun­ing closer to 30 inches.

In the land­scape you may have some roses in pro­tected ar­eas that re­quire less prun­ing than roses in cold ar­eas. The key is to see how many leaves are still on your roses.

Tree roses and climbers are not pruned the same way as I ex­plained above. A climber rose would be cut back to about 5-foot-long canes. A tree rose is pruned the same as above, but the bud union is about three feet above the ground. This means the last cut should be 18 inches above the bud union, not the ground.

The key to a suc­cess­ful rose prun­ing is to cause the rose bush to grow back next spring as large or slightly larger than be­fore it was pruned. If the rose does not grow as big next spring then make the last cut higher next win­ter.

As with any prun­ing, keep your tools sharp and clean. With the wet win­ter, be sure to dis­in­fect your shears with one part bleach and nine parts wa­ter be­tween each rose that you prune to help pre­vent spread­ing of some dis­eases.

If you had prob­lems with mildew, rust or black spot on your roses last year be sure to re­move any re­main­ing leaves, flow­ers, or hips from the plant and the ground. Spray your plant with a fungi­cide la­beled for roses and mildew. Also, spray the ground around your plants es­pe­cially if you have dec­o­ra­tive bark cov­er­ing the soil.

There are prob­a­bly more books writ­ten on roses than any other gar­den­ing top­ics. Many of these books are very re­gion­ally writ­ten and deal only about rose grow­ing in that spe­cific area. When buy­ing any gar­den­ing book, check and see where the book is pub­lished and where the au­thor is lo­cated.

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