PRUNE YOUR ROSES:
Valentine's Day serves as good reminder for garden chore
February 15, 2015
By Beth Ellis/Victoria County Master Gardener
Edited by Charla Borchers Leon/Victoria County Master Gardener
PHOTOS BY BETH ELLIS/VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER
Master Gardener Jerome Janak trims an antique rose bush at Victoria Educational Gardens last week with general shaping of the plant done with a hedge clipper and pruning shears.
Useful tools for pruning roses include shears, hedge trimmer, loppers, handheld clippers, and gloves. Don't forget a long-sleeved shirt and special rose trimming gloves for use on highly thorny rose bushes.
A properly pruned antique rose bush is trimmed and shaped with, at most, one-third of the bush cut back. With fertilizer, additional mulch and watering, this bush is ready for the upcoming blooming season.
Dead, damaged and weak canes were cut out with loppers during the pruning process of the rose bush.
Ah, Valentine's Day. Its existence makes the whole month of February one big celebration of young (and old) love. Suddenly, there are advertisements stretching from one end of the month to the other - reminding couples to gift each other with bouquets of roses.
The whole thing is actually pretty handy for even the most forgetful of us rose growers, because all the hoopla reminds us that it's time to pick up our shears and start pruning. When it comes to antique roses, the task is simple because the demands these old beauties make are so few.
The great thing about antique shrub roses is they don't need to be pruned down to a few bare canes in the way hybrid tea roses do. All they really need is a trim off the top and sides to shape and direct growth. It's pretty much like what we humans do when we go to a hair salon or barber for a quick shape and trim.
There's no need to be finicky - just use a hedge clipper or a pair of shears to shape the plant, removing at most a third of the shrub. Once done, take a pair of hand clippers or loppers and remove any dead or damaged canes, and any canes that are rubbing or crossing each other. Thin out weak canes as well to improve air circulation.
Restraint is also important when pruning antique climbers. All you need to do is cut out dead, damaged, weak or elderly canes, and remove unwanted canes that don't conform to training goals. That's pretty much it.
When training to a structure, like a fence, trellis, porch column, et cetera, use soft ties, like old panty hose, and tie loosely so that canes don't develop wear spots. Encourage more blooms by tying canes so they do not point straight up. Depending upon stiffness, tie canes so that they lean over one way or the other, follow a fence line horizontally or wind around a support. This will produce more lateral branching and consequently more blooms. Start while the canes are still young and flexible enough to bend easily.
Wait to prune once-blooming roses
Some antique roses bloom only once a year. Most of these do so in spring, although a few wait until summer before putting on a show. With these roses, it's important to remember that their blossoms come from the previous year's growth, so wait to prune until after flowering; otherwise, the bloom cycle will be disrupted and it will be another year before they flower again.
Roses benefit from year-round maintenance in the form of deadheading and harvesting blooms. This enhances flower and leaf production and helps to maintain plant shape.
To do this correctly, trim the stem at a 45-degree angle, one-half inch above the first five leaflet offshoot located below the bloom being removed. Stubs left any longer than that will die, which might compromise the health of the cane.
Two of the most useful tools to have when working with roses are an old, long-sleeved shirt and a pair of thick gloves that extend up the forearms. Most roses are armed with thorns, so it makes sense to protect yourself when working around them. Gloves made specifically for this purpose are best, because they provide good protection while still allowing some dexterity.
Other tools include hedge clippers and shears for general trimming, long-handled loppers for removing thick or difficult-to-reach canes, and handheld clippers for deadheading and harvesting blooms. For particularly thick canes, a handheld saw will come in handy.
Use bypass pruners - long handled or handheld - to tidy up especially jagged edges. Although antique roses are much more resistant to disease than are hybrid teas, it's a good idea to clean up any particularly ragged cuts that might allow a place for disease to enter as a preventative measure.
Keep all tools sharp and clean to insure quick, precise cuts.
Enjoy the show
After making short work of pruning your antique roses, give them a little extra boost of fertilizer and replenish mulch in preparation for warmer weather. Water regularly and get ready to enjoy the upcoming show which will be loved by all who watch.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.
• Fortune's Double Yellow
• Lady Banks Yellow
• Seven Sisters
Wait to trim until after blooming
Source: The Antique Rose Emporium
• Give them a haircut; shape by trimming tops and sides
• Use hedge clipper or shears, cutting at most 1/3 shrub
• Remove resulting dead or damaged canes
• Cut out dead, damaged, weak or old canes
• Remove canes that do not conform to training
• Tie/train canes for lateral branching, more blooms
• Blossoms come from previous year's growth
• Watch for showy blooming season
• Prune after blooming as with shrubs/climbers
Hybrid (grafted) roses
• Trim to a few bare canes
• Use preferred bypass pruners
• Cut at angle to 10-18 inches high