Pruning roses doesn't have to be a time consuming or difficult task. With a little basic knowledge you can do the job quickly and efficiently. Proper maintenance promotes new growth which in turn means more blooms. It also enhances air circulation which is a key element in preventing fungal diseases. Fall pruning is not recommended, as new growth can be killed by the first frost. Prune in the springtime only, or on an as needed basis if a cane breaks or becomes diseased. If you live in a warm area, trim in the coolest months so your rose has time to recover.
You will need protective gloves, a sharp by-pass shears and a saw if your canes are thicker than half an inch. Cut away weak, spindly canes, as they will drain energy from the plant and are unable to hold up blooms. If two canes cross or are rubbing on each other, leave the dominant one intact. Take out all dead or diseased canes. You can tell if a cane is alive by scraping away the bark. The inside should be green. If suckers are a problem, take them out by digging down to where they grow off from the roots.
During the growing season you should prune only to outward facing buds, to keep the plant open, allowing light and air movement in. Pruning to an inside bud encourages growth to the inside. The angle of your cut should be 45 degrees at about a quarter inch above the bud, slanted parallel to it. Cutting too close will kill the bud. Cutting too far away will make the cane die back to the bud. Once you have taken out unwanted growth, you can continue to cut back to the nearest healthy cane at the height you desire.
Roses that do well with this technique are hybrid teas, grandifloras, old-fashioned shrubs, floribundas and species roses.
Use only sharp shears. Dull shears will produce a ragged edge and entry for pests, frost and fungus. Dipping your shears in a seal bleach and water solution will also prevent the spread of disease.
There are some situations that require a much more drastic approach. Severe pruning is advised for older neglected roses and new plantings. If you have an older rose that is producing sparse blooms or has grown wildly out of shape, hard pruning will invigorate it as well as make a more pleasing shape. Pruning a new rose farther than normal will encourage it to grow stronger canes and more blooms.
We live in a severe climate with low winter temperatures and wind chill factors. I have found shrub roses to be the answer to rose loss. They have far fewer problems than other varieties of roses and less maintenance. If you like roses, but don't want the hassle, I highly recommend your trying some. Yellow roses are reportedly the most fragrant, if you are looking for perfume.
I have been using my dehydrator to dry roses very successfully. It takes only a few hours to do, and they hold their color and shape well. Of course don't put sprayed roses in a dehydrator you use for food. Red roses don't dry to the best color turning dark.
Stopping to smell your own rose is not only pleasant, but patriotic...the rose is our national flower!
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