Saturday, February 2, 2008
Time to Prune Roses
As I was listening to Neil Sperry's radio show this morning, he reminded me that it's time to prune roses in the Rio Grande Valley. He says that roses are best pruned before they put out their first spring flush. When I checked today, over half of my roses had swollen buds.
I only grow a few roses and they are all antiques. On the patio are pots of 'Margaret Merril' (above) and 'Gruss an Aachen'. They receive a half-day of sun (along with a full day of our strong Valley winds), yet they bloom for months. Pictured at left, 'Adam', is a short climber with double salmon-pink blooms. Believed to be the first of the Tea roses, it dates back to 1838. My 'Adam' had a number of blooms today before I took the pruners to it.
Before you begin pruning, make sure your trimmers are nice and sharp. Remove the dead and diseased canes first. Now, you will want to remove 1/3 to 1/2 of the remaining growth. Choose a bud that points to the outside of the rose bush and make an angled cut slightly above it. When you prune, more time should been spent deciding where to prune than actually pruning. Take your time and you will end up with a nicely shaped rose.
All of my roses are continual bloomers. If you have a rose that blooms once a year, you will want to wait until after it blooms before you prune. According to the Antique Rose Emporium, "roses that bloom but once annually are best pruned after they have bloomed. Their flowers come from wood that has been hardened over a winter".
Rose trimmings are the only plant materials that never go into the compost pile. I either place mine in the garbage or burn them in the chiminea.
If you want to read more about pruning and the care of roses, the Peninsular Rose Club has detailed instructions on their website.