Hello there! It has been some mild Winter overall, hasn't it?! Because it has been mild, Spring flowering shrubs and trees are starting to bloom a couple weeks earlier than we usually see them. Forsythia (gorgeous yellow shrub in the pic below!) is beginning to bloom in Middle TN, and as such, it is about time to begin sharpening your shears and pruning your Roses!
(Disclaimer! This blog post is focused on Shrub Roses (like Knock-outs) and Climbing Roses. If you have Hybrid Teas or Old Garden Roses, pruning tips will vary a bit from this and will not be covered in this post!)
So why do we prune? Simply put, pruning Roses is like when you get your hair cut. When you get a trim, your hair becomes healthier, grows better, and you don't have split ends anymore (all us women say 'Horray!'). Pruning Roses removes inferior or damaged canes, shapes the shrub, and gives the Rose bush a healthy foundation to grow simply beeeea-utiful blooms late this Spring and all Summer long. Ahh that sounds wonderful, doesn't it?
SO let's get to it! Pruning 101
*Invest in some nice shears if you don't have any. You may want to use gloves too as we all know Roses have high standards and can be a bit prickly if they're handled harshly (ouch).
*When pruning Roses, cut at an angle (around 45 degrees). There is no need to be super-protractor precise, but cut it at a nice angle.
*What are we cutting? First, examine your Rose bush and cut dead, damaged or twiggy growth on the main canes (or main "stems"). Also remove any spent buds from last year's bloom cycle if there are any left on the shrub. If there are any canes that are dead, remove those also.
*After you have made those angled cuts, if you have white glue at home, put a little dab on the cane where it was cut. This seals the stem to protect it against insects (specifically cane borers). If you don't have glue, it doesn't mean your Rose will die a terrible death this Spring. In truth, I haven't used glue in the past and have had healthy shrubs but may give it a shot this year to try it out.
*When you have removed those, take a look at your shrub. Roses like good air circulation in the center of their plant. Are there stems that are crossing over each other (or rubbing against each other) and preventing good air flow near the center of the plant? If so, remove the cross over.
*Now, overall height. Generally, it is recommended to remove a 1/3 off the top of the shrub. About a 1/3rd down from the top, pick an eye (where the leaf attaches to the cane is the bud eye) on each cane and cut at a 45 degree angle away from the eye. See the diagram below, how on the "Correct" image, there is approximately 1/4 inch cut above the bud eye (the bud eye is below the cut to the right and is where the leaf/ new foliage will grow). Notice in the diagram, the cut is not made slanting in towards the bud eye, but away from it. Pruning to an outward-facing bud promotes outward growth, opens up the plant to air circulation, creates nicer shapes, helps reduce risk of disease, and prevents the canes from becoming tangled up.
photo courtesy of www.gardenality.com
*Cut off any suckers that are near the base of the plant. These grow from the roots and you may need to brush back mulch to see if there are any. The suckers are new growth but they will literally suck energy and nutrients from the rest of your shrub, so they need to be removed.
*Clean up excess foliage on the ground near the base of the shrub, and there you go! Your Roses are ready to be fertilized next month and ready to produce gorgeous blooms for you late this Spring and all thru Summer!
A few last thoughts!
I hope this helps you as you gear up for Spring! Pruning Roses allows your Roses produce more and is overall very good for the health of the plant. If you have more in depth questions about pruning, give us a call, we are happy to help! 615-468-2008. Also, the American Rose Society website gives great advice on growing and pruning these beauties.
Spring is just around the corner and we are so excited to see you at your locally owned, locally grown Riverbend Nurseries. :D