Roses forum: When to prune my roses?

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Apr 12, 2014 5:56 AM CST

I planted a row of knock out roses last spring and they did wonderful. I wasn't sure if I should've trimmed them in the fall, so I left them. I am wondering when I should prune them? Do it now?? I live in NY and its still chilly here at nights..20-30s.

Thanks, Josh
Name: Toni
Denver Metro (Zone 5a)
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Apr 12, 2014 5:18 PM CST
Josh - I'm in a cold zone 5 and our saying here is "do not prune until the forsythias bloom." So if the forsythias in your area are going, I'd go ahead. But, if the nights are still below freezing, I'd wait. I'll be doing mine probably next week after this last snow we're supposed to be getting tonight/tomorrow.
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Name: Andi
Pocono Mountains, PA (Zone 6a)
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Apr 13, 2014 9:54 AM CST
I wait for the forsythia to bloom also. The forsythia are just starting to set leaf buds here. Spring is taking its time this year.

When pruning, I put glue on the larger cut branches to seal the ends. Elmer's white glue or generic dollar store Elmer's works, so does wood glue. This protects the canes from borers. I was told to seal any canes as thick as my pinkie. I had borers in thinner canes, so I seal smaller canes also. If you see signs of borers, cut back the cane past wherever they bored - i.e. cut to the place the cane doesn't have a hole in the center.

I am cutting clearly dead canes now because I am moving the end of this month. Otherwise, I would wait until the forsythia bloomed.
Name: Cindi
Wichita, Kansas (Zone 7a)
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Apr 14, 2014 3:58 PM CST
Knock Out roses don't require pruning, unless you want to keep them a certain height.
They will bloom just as beautifully if you leave them alone for a couple of years. *** IF, on the other hand, there are dead or damaged canes, cut them out at any time.
When I prune mine, I use hedge shears and just snip away. They never get disease or insects, and the canes grow at a uniform rate so the bush stays symmetrical.
The reason you don't prune in the fall is, pruning stimulates new growth, and you don't want that if cold weather is coming in the next month or so. In the fall, you want the plant to start shutting down, heading towards dormancy, rather than renewed growth.
Hope that helps.
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Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
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Apr 25, 2014 7:19 PM CST
Andi, I'm going to follow your advice, even though the roses have shown signs of new grow. A neighbor has a forsythias and it will be interesting to see the results of pruning then...suspicions are a few weeks since major snow storm is expected this weekend
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
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Apr 25, 2014 7:32 PM CST
I have often heard that you prune when the forsythia are blooming, but I like the idea of actually looking at the roses when determining when to prune. I like to prune when I first see the leaf buds starting to swell. I am not that familiar with forsythia, and some may bloom earlier than others, and some roses may develop earlier or later than others, so my theory is that it is better to actually go by the condition of the plant you are pruning.
Here is a good description of spring rose pruning.

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