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GARDENING: Pruning is beneficial to roses

Timothy Daly

Timothy Daly

Pruning is a beneficial gardening procedure in growing roses. It encourages new growth and removes dead or diseased parts. Periodic cosmetic pruning should be done throughout the growing season. More intense pruning should be done in the late winter and early spring for most types of roses.

Different roses have different pruning requirements. The hybrid tea roses, floribundas, grandiflora roses, and roses such as Nearly Wild and Knockout can bloom throughout the growing season. Make sure you have clean, sharp pruning snips and loppers before starting. Begin pruning the roses in the early spring when the buds begin to swell and before the new growth begins. Remove all dead and diseased wood. Dead rose canes have a shriveled, black appearance as opposed to living ones, which are green to light brown in color. Make the pruning cut at a 45-degree angle roughly 1⁄4 of an inch above a bud facing outward.

Remove all but four to six of the most vigorously growing canes. Cut out any branches with a diameter smaller than a pencil. Prune them back to within 24 to 30 inches from the ground. Remove any suckers arising from the base of the plant.

Certain climbing roses, such as Lady Banks that bloom only once a year, are pruned after they have finished blooming in the spring. Do not prune early in the spring before they bloom as they produce flowers on old wood from the previous year’s growth.

After they finish blooming, remove the oldest canes and leave five to seven of the strongest canes.

Some of the old garden rose varieties need minimal pruning to preserve their shape. Hard pruning can cause them to lose their form. Remove only the oldest stems that are no longer productive. Most of these types of roses bloom only once a season in the spring and should be pruned shortly after blooming.

Proper pruning at the appropriate time will improve the overall shape of the rose bushes, and promote new and healthier growth. It will ensure abundant, attractive roses for a long time to come.

Timothy Daly, MS, Agricultural and Natural Resource Extension Agent, Gwinnett County Extension. He may be contacted by phone at 678-377-4010 or by e-mail at tdaly@uga.edu.