Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Rose pruning season

Have you pruned your roses yet? This is traditionally the time of year when the winter pruning of roses is accomplished here close to the Gulf Coast. We think of Valentine's Day as our deadline for getting that necessary chore done.

Of course, in the real world of gardening, we are not quite that strict about dates. I pruned my 'Belinda's Dream' roses a few weeks ago, because I was moving them to a new location. And I pruned the 'Monkey Business' rose at the same time. Just because it was there.

I had intended to spend this week getting all the rest of my roses pruned. It would take me all week because there are quite a few of them and I am a slow pruner. But so far I haven't done any of that, simply because it has been cold and wet and dreary and I didn't want to be outside. I'm hoping for more favorable conditions tomorrow.

Pruning a rose, or any plant for that matter, is both a science and an art, and it is, for me, one of the more satisfying activities in the garden. A good job of pruning can grow a better, healthier plant, and, in the case of roses, can produce many more and better blooms.

What do we need to accomplish by pruning? I would maintain that there are at least five goals that we need to achieve.

  1. We need to remove the old dead wood.
  2. We need to remove surplus growth.
  3. If there is diseased or injured wood or parts that failed to develop normally, then they all need to be removed.
  4. We need to give the plant some guidance in the direction, the size and form that we want it to grow.
  5. And we need to encourage bloom.
In doing these five things, we should make sure that our pruners are clean and sharp so that they will cut cleanly and not spread disease and we need to be sure that we cut just above a bud.

Up north, where the roses go dormant, they cut their shrubs back severely in winter, but in our climate, we can be more gentle with our cuts. Most rosarians that I am familiar with recommend cutting back about one-third to one-half of the plant, certainly no more than that.

Since it is cold outside and I am stuck inside, I took a look at some of the rose pruning videos on YouTube. There are not as many as there are cat videos, but there are a lot. Of all the ones I viewed, I liked this fellow's approach and thought it was helpful. 

My loppers and hand pruners are sharpened and my rose gauntlets are all laid out and waiting for me and tomorrow is Wednesday, not Tuesday, so let's hope it will be a good day for rose pruning!

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