Pruning Roses - Knowledgebase Question

depew, NY
Question by bri799
February 25, 1998
I have what I believe to be Don Juan climbing roses; what is best time and method to prune them in this area?


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Answer from NGA
February 25, 1998

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If you planted your roses within the last two-three years, they should be ready for pruning and training. To quote "Roses for Dummies", co-authored by Lance Walheim and the editors of National Gardening Magazine:

"Think of your climbing rose as having two parts: the flowering shoots and the main structural canes on which they grow. Your goal in pruning is to select the sturdiest canes and tie them to the support in some evenly spaced manner, ideally in an angled or nearly horizontal fashion...The number of canes you choose depends on the size of your support and the age of the plant. Other canes should be removed.

"...new growth sprouts along the length of the structural canes. These are the flowering shoots...During dormancy, you should cut back these shoots to about two to three buds above the structural canes."

So, you should prune your roses while they're dormant - in late winter or early spring before they start growing. In some areas of the country, El Nino has upset weather patterns, and spring is making an early visit, prompting accelerated growth in many perennials. If this has been the case in your neighborhood, it may be time to prune. As your rose ages, an occasional structural cane won't produce flowering canes like it used to, so prune it away and train a replacement. Remove any damaged and diseased canes, too.

If you're interested in finding out more about "Roses for Dummies", published by IDG Books, Foster City, CA, checkout the website at www.dummies.com. Hope this helps!

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