Garden Chores: Pruning Roses

We have another Garden Chores YouTube video available! CVHS member, Frank, provides a demonstration on when, why and how to prune roses. Below is a quick overview of this very informative video that explains simply and practically how to easily complete this important spring task.

What is needed: Gloves, sharp and sanitized bypass pruners and loppers, rake for cleanup, rose fertilizer

When to prune: Look to your rose bush—it will tell you when it’s time to prune. When new forming buds are starting to break you can start to prune if the bush is protected from frost.

Why to prune: For shape and for health. In the Pacific Northwest climate, prune to keep the rose bush open in the middle to discourage fungal diseases by encouraging more air flow. Modern roses are grafted onto hardy root stock that produce drab roses—suckers coming from below this graft should be pruned off so that the root stock doesn’t take over. Finally, the best blooms are produced on newer wood so old wood should be pruned off.

How to prune: First remove dead, dying, diseased, and weak branches (general rule of thumb is to remove branches that are smaller than the width of a pencil). Remove any branches that are crossing. Then look to open up the middle of the bush by pruning to a bud that is pointing away from the centre of the plant (outward facing bud). New growth will grow away from the centre of the bush.

When you have finished pruning, remove the leaf and dead wood debris from around the bush and dispose of it somewhere safe (i.e. not in your compost) as it may harbour disease. Add a shot of fertilizer and you should get a nice flush of blooms in a few months. After that display, deadhead, add another shot of fertilizer and, hopefully, you will be rewarded with further blooms.

For those of you that want more information, Frank recommends the book “RHS Pruning and Training” by Christopher Brickell and David Joyce.