Rose Pruning in Mid-February

Rose Pruning in Mid-February

Rose Pruning in Mid-February
by Carol Wood and Elizabeth Milam  (Or MCMGs’)
Mid February is time to start pruning roses to tidy up their appearance; control size; and improve their vigor, growing habits and bloom. One exception is climbing roses which bloom on last year’s growth and should be pruned after flowering.

Proper pruning shears are a must.  A sharp pair of bypass (scissor like) shears will not crush the cane left on the plant which would allow diseases to enter the stem. Loppers are handy because you have a longer reach (avoid the thorns), and it is easier to cut out big canes.

Some fundamental practices of pruning roses correctly in all gardens, regardless of type, are: 1) remove any canes that are dead or have been damaged by insects, diseases or storms; 2) remove one of two canes which may be rubbing one another; or 3) remove canes that are spindly or smaller in diameter than the size of a pencil. After pruning, according to these general recommendations, cut hybrid teas, florabundas, and grandifloras back to 12 – 18 inches above the bud union for large flowers and 18 to 24 inches for many smaller sized flowers.

Proper pruning consists of cutting back to healthy wood.  Cuts should be no more than 1/4 inch above a bud or bud-eye, with pruners above the bud and sloping 45 degrees down and away from the bud.  In other words, make a slanting cut and do not leave a stub.

Old-fashioned or antique roses require much less pruning than modern roses. Left unpruned old fashion roses will naturally obtain a rounded shrub shape. Pruning of these roses should be confined to some shaping of the plant, removal of damaged branches, and judicious trimming back to encourage growth.

To avoid spreading diseases always clean your pruning shears after finishing one bush and before moving on to the next; also do not prune when the leaves of the bush are wet for the same reason.

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