The Q&A Archives: Roses

Question: I live in Miami, Florida. I have a few rose bushes planted in my garden. When is the best time to prune them, and HOW do I prune them? They bloom occasionally but I can never get them to look

Answer: Since your roses never really go dormant, you can prune at any time. To keep them bushy and healthy, cut them back hard each December and only slightly in March. For hard pruning, cut everything down to about knee high then remove the oldest, grayest canes and retain 3-5 of the healthiest most vigorous canes. Your bush should have a vase shape with the center open for good air circulation. New stems will grow from these remaining canes. As the season extends you can prune the tops of the plants back to encourage flowering. Follow each stem down to a 5 leaflet leaf and cut just above it. Two or more new flowering stems will develop from below the pruning cut and if you remove spent flowers regularly, they should bloom off and on all year for you. Most roses will benefit from regular application of fertilizers in small amounts. Sometimes you can even feed with liquid fertilizers as often as every two weeks. The more your roses put out new growth and bloom, the more fertilizers they will need. Some people even call roses 'fertilizer hogs'. A rose that is not fertilized regularly will just stop growing. You can use a specially formulated rose food or find a general purpose fertilizer with a 1-2-1 ratio of NPK (such as a 10-20-10) to promote flowering. Enjoy your roses!

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