The Q&A Archives: Problems growing roses

Question: I love roses, they don't love me.
I planted a rose garden with 17 rose bushes, and I have had to replace 15 of the 17, what can I do.

Answer: In a sunny spot with ample room between plants for good air circulation, adequate water and fertilizer, roses should thrive in your garden. I'm not sure where you went wrong!

A good spring pruning might give your roses a new start and perhaps they will perform well for you. Here are the steps to follow: You can cut out dead or diseased wood any time of the year, but roses need major pruning in late winter or early spring when they're first starting to send out new growth. The new growth is usually little red buds that will turn into new stems or leaves. When pruning, it's important to make a 45-degree cut 1/4 inch above an outward facing bud. This will ensure that the new growth will be directed up and away from the center of the bush allowing for better air circulation.

The first step in a successful pruning job is to cut out any completely dead wood, which is black or dark gray. Then remove any branches that are rubbing against others, crossing one another, or damaged or diseased. The areas where the branches rub each other can leave your plant open to disease so it is a MUST that they be removed. Now you need to decide what to keep. Look carefully at your rose bush and pick out three to six canes as your keepers (with a very large rose bush you might want to keep 8-10 canes). These canes should be at least as thick as a pencil. The keepers need to spread out from the center of the bush. Remove all of the other thin and spindly growth.

Then cut the canes you are going to keep to a height of 1-3 feet tall. It may seem like drastic surgery, but the rose will survive. After pruning each plant, clean your equipment with rubbing alcohol to prevent spreading diseases between the plants.

When you are cutting some of your beautiful roses to take inside to enjoy or even when you are deadheading your roses, you are pruning your bush. This will ultimately affect the shape and health of your rose. Therefore, it's important to cut carefully and correctly. Make the cut just above a leaf with five little leaflets facing away from the center of the bush. This will ensure strong new growth at the point of the cut.

Hope this helps you make the right pruning cuts to renovate your roses!

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