Friday, April 1, 2011

It's time to prune your Roses!

If you have visited our store you have probably encountered Celeste who works outside with our trees, shrubs and perennials. You will also know that she is a wealth of knowledge! She shared the following article recently on our website and I thought our blog readers would love this as well. Thanks Celeste!


The Forsythia are bursting their buds; so NOW is the time to prune your roses. Here are some great tips:
“To sum up for any rose plant – remove any parts of the bush that are too small or weak to hold up the growth anticipated for this year and leave as much strong wood as you want, the more you leave the bigger the bush will be.
It is still wise to remove all the little and twiggy growth. The severity of pruning has less influence over the growth and flower production of the bush than we think, unless little to no pruning is done. When we have had severe winters in Portland, such that the majority of rose canes were killed all the way to the bud union, (to the ground), we have had some of our best spring rose shows, indicating that the bushes re-grow rapidly. When winters are mild, many people are prompted to do only a light pruning on the roses since all of the canes are alive and sprouting. When pruning time approaches, there is already a lot of leafy growth and this is very difficult for many novice rose growers, and others, to remove during the pruning process. These lightly pruned bushes will produce lots of growth from the ends of relatively small canes. This growth will tend to be small in diameter and much of it may be broken off by the spring rains or by the weight of developing flowers. So, do not be afraid that you will over prune. It is almost always true that pruning too hard will produce better results than pruning too little.
Begin pruning by just looking closely at the rose bush, a typical example of which is depicted in the diagram to the right (you will probably have no bushes that look exactly like this example). Every rose bush in the garden will have grown differently during the past season so begin by carefully looking at what you have to start with. This is a very important part of the process. This first part of the examination should be directed toward the lower part of the rose bush, the area from which the canes (rose stems) originate, which is called the bud union. The purpose of pruning is to remove all weak growth, leaving only strong, healthy canes which can adequately support the growth expected during the upcoming summer. When the pruning is done, a good bit of the uppermost parts of the bush will be removed.
There are basically three categories for pruning height. The first is referred to as “hard pruning’. The illustrations at the top depict an average rose bush before and after it has been ’’hard’’ pruned. When doing a hard pruning, the canes are cut back to a length such that there are only three or four buds on each of three to five canes. This will result in leaving only very sturdy canes about 5-12 inches long. Hard pruning is sometimes recommended for newly planted roses and is often used by exhibitors to promote the growth of exhibition quality blooms. The logic behind this is that the new canes which will grow from the old canes can be no larger than the ones from which they originated. So, if the new canes grow from very large canes, there is a good possibility that they will be large too. The larger the flowering cane, usually the larger the flower that it can and will produce.
The second category is ‘Moderate’. When the (moderate, hard or light) pruning is finished, the ideal rose bush will have only sturdy, healthy canes radiating from the bud union. In reality, this ideal is rarely achieved. Most bushes do not have enough canes growing in just the right directions to be ideal. If the bush has only 2, 3 or 4 canes, it would be best to allow them all to remain, unless one of them is truly a nonproductive old cane. If the rose has 5 to 7 or more canes, you can then begin making decisions about which ones to remove to achieve a pleasing balance. For most rose bushes, an outcome similar to the diagram on the top labeled ‘MODERATE’ would be desirable. “
***I personally only recommend ‘light pruning’ during the growing season to maintain the plant’s appearance and ensure proper air-circulation/light penetration and bloom collection.
***Don’t forget to keep your tools clean, and maintain the working parts like you should any piece of equipment. 

BEFORE/AFTER: Hard Pruning Example
Average Rose Bush Before Clean Up
Darkened Branches are selected for removal
Final outcome for MODERATE pruning