Saturday, December 31, 2011

8 Simple Steps to Perfectly Pruned Roses

'Joseph's Coat' rose

Although roses in Southern California never really go dormant, this is the time of year to give them an annual pruning.  It's tough to do since many plants are still blooming!  Pruning, while sacrificing a few blooms now, will result in a healthier plant and, therefore, better blooms in the coming year.

Rose pruning instructions are often somewhat complicated and intimidating.  But if you just follow these 8 steps, you'll have roses ready to bloom their heads off come spring!

8 Steps to Perfectly Pruned Rose Bushes

1.  Canes (branches) growing towards the interior of the bush:  Remove all, cut flush to a main, outward facing cane.
2.  Canes crossing one another:  Choose the most healthy, vigorous looking, and outward pointing cane and cut off the other.
3.  Dead, diseased or old woody canes:  Cut off at base of plant.
4.  Canes thinner than a pencil:  Cut off flush to a main cane or base of plant.
5.  Shorten remaining outward pointing canes by one third of their length cutting 1/4" above an outward pointing leaf node.  The goal is to have 3 to 7 outward pointing canes growing from the base of the plant.
6.  Remove all leaves from plant.
7.  Remove all fallen leaves and debris under and around plant.
8.  Spray pruned shrub and ground with a dormant spray.*

The goal is to have a resulting bush that is shaped like a v-shaped vase, open in the middle so that it could hold a beach ball in the center of the bush.

* Dormant spray is a horticultural oil or fungicide or combination that is sprayed on the plant while 'dormant'.  The oil smothers insects and fungal spores and the fungicide deters fungi such as those that cause black spot, powdery mildew and rust.  Pre mixed sprays for roses are available at nurseries or home improvement stores, or you can make your own:

Cornell University Formula:

1 gallon water
2 tablespoons fine horticultural oil
1 tablespoon mild liquid soap (not detergent)
1 heaping tablespoon baking soda (acts as a fungicide)

Stir each addition thoroughly.  Put mixture in clean sprayer and spray plants thoroughly.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative and well written. I will archive this for use this year and every year. Do try the Fox Farm Rose fertilizer I offer. It is great stuff with Bat Guano and worm castings included. The dormant spray formula is great. May I pass this on to my APLD group?