Monday, March 9, 2009

Prune roses when the forsythia blooms

That is how the old saying goes and it is true - the best time to prune roses is when the forsythia shrubs start to bloom. Here in north Alabama, that usually happens in late February and early March.

We don't have a forsythia in our garden but we planted a few at Michael's salon. As you can see, they are in full bloom.



I grow mostly old roses which do not require the severe pruning that hybrid teas do. One exception are the miniature roses. They are pruned hard. The following photo shows the miniature rose "Sweet Chariot" before pruning...



and after pruning...



Shrub roses do not require as much pruning. Generally, I cut them back about 1/3 and remove any dead canes. Here is the rose "Daydream" that was planted last year -



after pruning -



Cuts are made right above outward facing buds (if you look at the stems of roses, the buds are easy to spot).

Some roses (especially older ones) may be denser in growth and have smaller canes. An example is this "Weeping China Doll" -



Because it has so many canes, pruning by hand can be time consuming. For jobs like this, I just use my hedge trimmers and go back and cut any jagged edges with the hand pruners.



Climbing roses do not require much pruning either with the exception of removing dead canes. Here is a climbing rose that I'm growing on a tripod (not very well I might add). Notice that Isabella always manages to find a snoozing spot within camera range - she's such a ham!



Large shrub roses like this "Buff Beauty" are probably the scariest and most difficult to prune. This rose is centered in the garden and has free range to grow. Unlike most of the other roses in the garden, it is not restricted by other roses and plants. Unfortunately, it got much larger than I expected it too. As a result, it blocks the view of the statue and the wall behind it (I wanted an unrestricted view from the opposite end of the pergola).



I'm afraid to prune this rose back too much because it has such a beautiful cascading shape when it blooms. (The following photo was taken several years ago before the wall was completed)



For now, I'll just remove all the dead canes, which were considerable, and lightly prune the tips of the longer branches. Even though the girth of the rose hampers my design plan, I'd rather have a beautifully shaped rose.



When it comes to roses, don't let pruning scare you. I learned many years ago that not pruning can affect the health of a rose and even lead to its decline.

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21 comments:

Layanee said...

Ohhh, the 'Buff beauty' is lovely and while you mentioned it is bigger than you would like it seems to have created rooms for you. I can almost smell it.

Dirt Princess said...

That is a great rule of thumb. Your roses are beautiful and your yard is amazing. I look forward to seeing the photos throughout the year

Jean said...

I can see why you leave that Buff Beauty be. It's stunning. Rose pruning is done a bit earlier here (Valentine's Day is the rule of thumb), so I'm past all that. But I have a question. I put in a miniature climber, Red Cascade, just a couple weeks ago. Since I've never grown a mini I need to know if I should prune it hard after it blooms? Or maybe wait a year and then do so after next spring's bloom? Thanks!

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Great pruning tips. I'm always afraid to prune too much. Ours have barely begun to leaf out yet, and the forsythia is just about to bloom. I did a little pruning a week a couple of weeks ago, but I have a feeling I didn't do enough.
The large rose by the urn is beautiful.

Les said...

While the Forsythia is blooming is also the time to apply loads of chemical pre-emergents to water sucking, fertilizer intensive fescue lawns - at least that is what we tell our customers.

We are trying to ween them off of the chemicals and on to corn gluten, with fairly positive results.

Jamie and Randy said...

Great post Phillip! I wanted to see you tackle that giant above the door. Did you get to it this weekend?

flowrgirl1 said...

love the post. roses always seem to be that one plant that puzzles when it comes to pruning.

Rob (ourfrenchgarden) said...

That's a beautiful weeping habit that the 'Buff Beauty' has.

I look forward to hopefully seeing more of your roses in the future.

Wayne said...

Some great tips! I'm always at a loss on how to prune roses.

sweet bay said...

Phillip I can't wait to see your roses bloom. They are gorgeous.

Frances said...

Hi Phillip, thanks for that tutorial. I have a new miniature and didn't know how to prune it. I prune the larger roses on Valentine's Day, like the Knockouts. Looks like there is more rose pruning in the future here too. Your Buff Beauty is magnificent. I didn't know that one got that large either, but what a specimen!
Frances

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I had never heard this advise before. I will be watching for my forsythia to bloom before pruning my few roses. I am not a good rosarian. I have one climber that refuses to climb and two carpet roses. I can't tell you the countless roses that have sucumb to death by my hand. Sigh~~ I do love to see them in the garden though. Someone elses garden that is.

Diana said...

Oops. Looks like I didn't prune my roses, I scalped them! Next year I'll know better.

Juju said...

Phillip, you have done it now! I just had to comment finally. Roses are by far my favorite and at one time, I had 47 beautiful bushes.. Hybrid Teas, Climbers, Bush Roses and some Floribundas. They took a lot of work but they were well worth it. I doubt I would have any luck with them here in the country as it gets so dry and dusty around here. We will be making a trip up to Florence before too much longer and I certainly hope to see your garden. Get practiced up on Hugs.. You know me! LOL.. Judy

Roses and Lilacs said...

What an amazing photo of Buff Beauty. It isn't known for winter hardiness so I've never tried growing it.

I follow the same rule. Prune when the forsythia bloom, usually in April. Unfortunately the heirloom roses need to be pruned almost to the soil line but they always recover.
Marnie

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Love the perfusion of blooms around the urn--that's truly beautiful and I'm not even a big rose devotee! Our forsythia bloom in mid April! :)

Annie in Austin said...

Like Jean, we're advised to prune roses around Valentine's Day - but your rose-rule is making me wonder if anyone in the Austin area who gets forsythia to bloom uses that as a marker.

Ever since 'Buff Beauty' appeared on blogs I've been coveting it. It's so beautiful, but Phillip -your photos of its size have convinced me to take it off the wish list for my very small garden.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Sarah Laurence said...

My forsythia is still buried in snow, sigh. I can’t imagine roses surviving our winter. I love when the forsythia blooms, signaling the arrival of spring. That’s more like late April here. Thanks for sharing your spring. I love the roses around the urn.

Chandramouli S said...

So many different kinds! That's so wonderful, Phillip! I'm never good at pruning. Last week while trying to remove the dead canes of my mini roses, I accidentally (a great blunder) cut off the main stem of my orange rose!. Now I'm not sure if it'd regrow as only a stub is left of it.

Gail said...

Phillip, I never heard the rule about pruning when the forsythia blooms but if it works I am going to try it! I only have a few little roses...The Fairy and Fairy Queen....but they can get out of bounds, too. I know I have said this before...but your blue wall is fantastic. Actually, your garden is fantastic! gail

Valerie said...

Great blog! Good pruning advice as I was inclined to prune today with the weather so nice. I'll wait a few weeks since it's been so cold. Thanks! When do you suggest prunning forsythia and gardenia bushes? or do you even do that?