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.


kate said...

Mary Beth,

When it's time to prune my roses, I'll be back again. I hadn't thought about not putting the rose cuttings onto the compost pile. It makes sense .
'Adam' is a beautifully-coloured rose. You are lucky to have blooms at this time of year!!

Anonymous said...

You are trimming your roses now, and I will be following your lead in about a week or two. I usually trim everything back around Valentine's Day here in Austin. But with earlier springs, I may have to move it up a week.

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

We are pruning the ever blooming antique roses right now here in North Texas as well.

Meems said...

Mary Beth, Enjoyed my look around your blog. Your roses are wonderful. I admire anyone patient enough to grow roses.

I must admit I pulled all mine out about 2 years ago and don't have a single rose bush at the moment. Too many bugs/diseases and all those pruning rules... just too much trouble for me. Of course now with the knock-out roses I'm tempted to bring the lovely things back and give it a whirl again.

Congrats are your lovely blooms!

Vérone said...

Superbe !!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this.