Pruning Tips, Part 2: Roses
Recently, several people have asked me about pruning roses, since I didn't include them in my last article. While it may seem difficult to prune roses that are growing beautifully, if you don't they will become ugly as they grow tall and become scraggly looking. For roses to be healthy and produce many buds, they must be pruned.
The best time to prune roses is mid-winter to midspring; however, you can remove canes that will be damaged during the winter months in the fall. Be sure that you have the right tools for pruning. Use curved-edge pruning shears that will not crush the stems. A longhandled lopper, or a pruning saw is best to cut thick canes on the rose bushes.
As you are getting ready to prune, clean out any debris that is around the plant. Remove any growth that shouldn't be there. Remove the top third of the plant. Remember, each new branch will grow in the direction it is facing. If the bud is pointing outward, the new branch will grow out. If you cut below the bud, the bud won't grow, so be careful as you proceed. Be sure to cut in the angle of the leaf, as it looks neater as the cut seals.
Since the purpose of pruning is to renew the plant, look at the bottom of the rose bush. If it has several canes, remove three or four of them. If it has as little as three canes, remove one. This won't kill the plant, but will make it stronger and new growth will be possible. After you have completed pruning, clean the rose by using the hose to wash off any particles that may be clinging to it.
Roses are tough and can survive a bad pruning, so don't panic if you make a mistake. Any pruning you do is better than no pruning at all.
Hybrid Tea Roses should be pruned by taking one-third off the top, as you want the plant to produce a large, single flower. Floribundas should be encouraged to produce many flowers. Take off one-third to one-half from the top.
Prune climbing roses when you prune other roses. The climbers that bloom only once in the spring should be pruned after blooming. Prune oldfashioned roses after they bloom. Prune Grandifloras and miniatures the way you prune