Contributed by Bruce Gillett, MD
“This urge, wrestle, resurrection of dry sticks,
Cut stems struggling to put down feet,
What saint strained so much,
Rose on such lopped limbs to a new life?”
Cuttings (Later)Theodore Roethke (1908 -1963)
I love Roethke’s quote; it speaks to me about pruning roses. Most roses in our area should be pruned during the last week in February and the first two weeks in March. Roses that bloom once such as rambling roses, species roses, and many old garden roses should be pruned after flowering
Equipment: By-pass type sharp pruning shears, long-handled lopping shear, pruning saw, waterproof glue, Lysol spray.
Remove crossing, dead, damaged, and thin canes cutting them to the main cane. Open the center of the plant to improve air circulation and sunlight penetration by pruning above an outward facing budeye and remove inward growing canes.
Cut the canes at a 45 degree angle, ¼ inch above a budeye. Each cut must slope away from the budeye. Prune down until you reach healthy white pith. Prevent cane borer entry by using glue to seal pruning cuts measuring greater than ¼ inch in diameter.
Prune hybrid teas and grandifloras to a height of eight to eighteen inches; floribundas to a height of ten to twenty inches; polyanthas and miniatures by removing two-thirds of their existing height; shrub and old garden roses by removing one-third of the length of the main canes; climbers by cutting the secondary (lateral) canes leaving two or three budeyes; rambling roses after flowering by shortening the secondary (lateral) canes by two-thirds of their length.