Pruning Roses and Yearly Rose Maintenance
Pruning roses is the best way to a healthy plant, and few bushes will impress your friends and neighbors like a rose bush in radiant full bloom. The steps to maintaining a rosebush are easy but of the utmost importance to have a healthy well bloomed bush all summer long. By following a few basic pruning steps throughout the year, you too can have the best roses on the block, and a vase in the house to spare.
The start of your pruning season depends on the region of the country you live in. For the majority of the country this may very well be January or February, but even in Portland, Oregon, The Rose City, that usually occurs in March or April. Consult the USDA Pant Hardiness Zone Map to determine when this is for you. You will also use this chart to determine when to apply winter protection to your bush. All gardeners, no matter how small, should be familiar with what plant zone they live in, especially for successful rose gardening.
When the last threat of frost has past and the buds are beginning to swell, its time to begin pruning your roses. Start by removing and dead branches. They can be identified by the dark, shriveled appearance and should be trimmed off at the closest branching while safely removing all possible disease in the branch. Next choose several of your large branches, called canes, with 2-4 feet spacing between them. Select healthy canes that will result in a vase or urn shape when the remaining branches are pruned away. These shapes are popular as they encourage airflow through the rosebush which will promote healthy growth and discourage moss or mold from taking hold. To aid in this, prune away any small canes thinner than a pencil near the center of the bush to continue supporting your urn or vase shape. If you still have winter protection on your roses remove it now.
Next, remove any “suckers” or upshots of new plants. These will be popping their heads up out of the ground around the rosebush. These are new plants attempting to grow off of the parent plant. They will leach vital nutrients from the parent plant and result in fewer and smaller blooms throughout the next couple years while the new plants mature. Remove these by digging into the soil and removing them from the root to prevent them from growing back. If removed carefully, however, you can replant these suckers in other places around your yard.
While its tempting to leave those lovely blooms on the bush for all to enjoy, pruning roses off of the bush will encourage new flowers to bloom. Keep fresh cute roses in water with just a drop of plain, unscented bleach and they will last for a week longer than water or sugar water. Of course giving a gift of roses pruned from your own bushes are a labor of love that show real appreciation.