Roses have grown wild and beautiful for thousands of years without benefit of pruning. But you want to prune them so they have a chance to rejuvenate every year and produce a more lovely show.
Pruning and training are fairly simple. Sometimes it matters what and where you prune, sometimes it does not. Pruning can also control the size and shape of the rose plant.
When to Prune:
The repeat blooming roses, prune toward the end of the dormant season, in California that is in January and February. These include Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora, and others.
The exception to this is the roses that bloom once yearly like the Lady Banks roses, Cecile Brunner and some of the old garden roses. These are pruned to control shape and size mostly, and the timing is just after they bloom. This way they are able to establish "year old wood" to re-bloom the following spring.
What to Prune:
- Hybrid Tea, Floribunda, Grandiflora, Climbers, modern Shrub, and Miniatures along with most other varieties.
- All roses bloom on current year's wood. Wood that is produced from now on. So by pruning, we are invigorating the plant, relieving it of its dead or weak material.
- Remove dead, dying or weak blooms and stems. Prune suckers that originate below the graft. Also, any growth that doesn't suit you. You're the boss.
- Prune for control of size. A rose garden is useless if you can't reach the roses.
- Prune to the outward facing buds: This will be where there is a previous leaf union. Cut at a slant to encourage water to run off and negate rot. No need to seal.
Climbers can add incredible beauty to your garden especially when you have a limited space. How to prune these is a bit more time consuming but don't be daunted by this:
- Pick a structure. Obviously you won't be cutting as severely close to the ground or the plant would have to regenerate all the way up.
- When the cane gets old and needs to be replaced, pick a parallel cane and cut out the old. Head back all brushy growth. Shrubs Hedges and Ground Cover Roses.
- Hedge pruners will be our friend when it comes to ground cover roses and hedge roses. Cut freely and don't worry about the rough stuff. Cut out obvious dead areas but don't worry too much about the finer cuts.
- Remember roses that are pruned heavily, feed heavily. Much like people, roses love food and drink. Commercial fertilizers are fine as are organic composts and teas.
- One of the best things you can do for your roses to help keep disease controlled is to remove all leaves from the plant when you prune. Also rake and remove dead fallen leaves from the ground around the plant. This material can harbor disease and fungus.
- Spray with a dormant spray during the winter. This helps to control diseases, fungus and over wintering pests.
Dave Fazzio is owner and plant expert at Sonoma Mission Gardens.
About Sonoma Mission Gardens:
Located in the Valley of the Moon, Sonoma Mission Gardens is a full service nursery. The nursery offers an exceptional selection of plants and garden materials as well as landscaping consultation and design services.
Sonoma Mission Gardens
851 Craig Avenue
Sonoma, California 95476