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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rose Pruning

Despite the lovely warm, dry weather the winter pruning must be done! Especially in mild years when plants are fooled by lack of cold and just keep growing and growing and growing. In the pictures above I have some before and afters of Roses trimmed and untrimmed (also note the poor staking of the tree rose- please use large.metal stakes when planting or this will happen to yours). Anyway the idea of doing winter pruning is to maintain good structure in the plants, prepare for the flowers and new growth in the spring and to prune out any dead or diseased wood also any crossoing branches (this is not always possible).
When pruning Roses always wear leather gloves preferably Rose gloves that have cuffs that cover your wrists and forearms too.  After many, many scratches and abrasions I finally have learned to always where my gloves. 
I don't really like to prune back into the old wood (branches with old bark and main trunk) so I try to keep up with the pruning each year so this doesn't become neccesary.  Roses are fairly forgiving though so a few wrong cuts aren't usually a disaster.
Start by pruning out the current years growth cutting back the green wood just above an active bud (one that is plump and not dead looking). I like to leave 2 active buds along the branches so as the Rose grows out there will be enough new growth.  Prune out any dead and damaged wood.
The old rule of thumb is not to leave the cut end of a dead branch any longer than 1/4" from the trunk.
As you prune open up the center of the plant so that as the foliage fills in there are not branches crowding the center and creating dark spots and poor air circulation that encourages pests.
As you finish pruning the Rose remove any leaves left on the plant and rake up below to remove diseased leaves that can infect the plant in the coming year.
For diagrams of the pruning see the Sunset pruning book which is very good or attend a class at a local nursery. I am happy to consult with local clients on garden care also.
A little care makes the world of difference in the flower production and health of your garden.
Enjoy and Happy Winter pruning!

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