When and how do I prune my roses? - Knowledgebase Question

Sinclairville, Ne
Question by eileen25
October 22, 2010
I'm reading that roses should be pruned in late winter. Does this mean I leave the long canes as they are until February or March 2011? Also, I had a lot of trouble with insects eating the leaves of my plants. Is there anything I can put around the base of the roses now that will cut down on the damage next growing season?


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Answer from NGA
October 22, 2010

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You can prune your roses back after the first frost of the season, anytime during the winter months, or in the spring when new growth just begins. It's important to wait until after the first frost which will signal your roses to go into dormancy. You can prune anytime after that. If you opt to do your major pruning in the spring you'll want to tie together those long canes so they don't whip around in the winter winds. There are only a few things to remember about pruning roses: Blooms are produced on new growth, so retaining the old growth won't be beneficial to your rose bushes. You can safely cut hybrid tea roses to about two feet above the graft. Standard roses are usually grafted onto a 2-3 foot understock, so prune these about 18 inches above the graft. Try to prune some of the old canes out and leave three to five vigorous canes on each plant. Always use sharp pruners when cutting roses, and always cut to an outside facing bud in the direction you want the plant to grow. If you remove all of the dead, crossing and rubbing canes, plus all of the long, unruly stems, you should end up with a sturdy, compact plant. To protect your roses from insects and diseases, be sure to remove all the fallen leaves and plant debris this fall and winter to remove any overwintering insects and their eggs. Next spring you can use a neem oil based product such as Rose Defense. Be sure to apply according to label directions. Best wishes with your roses!

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