Rose Care Tips
Roses need quite a bit of pruning for several reasons:
There are two different kinds of pruning. The first is done during the growing season. Each time you cut a flower you are pruning the plant, either properly or improperly. The following steps will help you keep the plant growing well and looking good.
There are dormant buds at each leaf stem. Trimming the branch above a bud encourages it to sprout. Always select a spot to cut which is about 1/2" to 1" above an undamaged bud.
Notice which direction the bud will grow and select the cutting spot by trying to assure that the next bud to develop will grow toward the outside of the plant. This will keep most new growths from growing into each other or into old stems.
Try to cut the stems short enough to limit the plants from getting too tall by the end of the year. Don't cut them too short, but beware that if the plant adds four 18" growths during the season to a stem that starts at 2' tall, it will end up over 8' tall.
At the end of the season the rose plants need to be pruned back. This final pruing eliminates unsightly or diseased growths, and cuts the stems back to the proper height for the beginning of the next season.
As the weather cools down you will see some of the lower leaves begin to turn yellow. If you will look on the back side of the leaves you may see little orange spots. This is a fungus called rust and it will spread. I like to keep these leaves pulled off and thereby avoid the spread being quite so fast. Be sure to discard the leaves in a trash can and not on the ground around your roses.
The timing is important. The winter pruning needs to be done when the plants are completely dormant to avoid encouraging new growth too early in the winter, when newly emerging growths might be damaged by the cold. In Southern California this in January or early February. In other climates this might be a bit earlier.
Hybrid tea and floribunda rose stems should be cut back to between 18" and 36" high, depending upon the maturity of the plant.
Trim off sideshoots whenever possible so that the remaining stems are all straight and unbranched.
Eliminate weak and unsightly stems keeping only 5 or 6 of the best main stems, maybe a few more on very mature specimens.
Fertilize monthly with a good systemic rose food applying per label instructions. I have had good success with Ortho brand systemic rose food. This contains an insecticide that will allow you to avoid most pests including aphids.
Hopefully your roses are planted in a very sunny location, one getting at least 8 to 10 hours of direct sun in midsummer, morning sun being the best because it will dry the dew off the leaves early to avoid mildew. In the South, even in a sunny location an occasional spraying of a fungicide might be necessary.
Deep Irrigation is best since it will encourage deep root growth and avoid getting water on the leaves, something that may encourage mildew.
Deep watering should only be required about once a week in most climates. I like to build little dams around the plants which will make the water puddle while the garden hose runs slowly.
There are few kinds of flowers that can be as rewarding as roses and if planted properly, a minimum amount of work will be required to create an incredible rose garden.
Last updated 1/30/2003