Prune Roses for Spring Blooms
Everything is coming up roses. Here in the Valley, January is the ideal month for pruning roses. It’s also time to get your bare-root roses into the ground and to relocate any established roses planted in an unfavorable location.
Rose pruning season begins once the danger of frost has passed, when daytime temperatures are below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and while roses have ceased blooming. Prune roses before Valentine’s Day, when temperatures rise and bud eyes swell with new growth.
Know your rose
The purpose of pruning roses is to stimulate new spring growth and to achieve the greatest number of quality blooms. Most roses respond best to drastic pruning, so don’t be nervous. It’s always best to first confirm the types of roses you have—hybrid tea, floribunda, miniature, climbing, rambling, groundcover, etc.—so you can prune your rose to its best potential shape and size. This article focuses on pruning bush roses like hybrid teas and floribundas.
Cut for shape
Begin by using sharp, clean loppers and pruning shears/secateurs sterilized with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to prevent spreading plant pathogens. For bush roses, the objective is to achieve a vase-shaped plant (open in the center) and to have 5-12 remaining canes that are roughly knee height, 18-24 inches tall; more vigorous, established plants may have more canes.
While you are cutting, take note of discolored or diseased leaves or insects present to properly address any problems. Seal cuts with commercial cut sealant or school glue. Lastly, clear all clippings from underneath the rose to prevent mildew and disease.
What to prune in winter
Here are general rules of thumb for what to remove in the pruning process:
- At least one quarter to one third, but no more than one half, of the previous year’s growth
- Dead or diseased canes
- Crossing, rubbing canes
- Limbs less than the thickness of a pencil
- Old, unproductive canes
- Suckers below the graft union (on hybrid teas)
What to prune in other seasons
At other times of the year, keep your roses in shape by snipping off spent blooms just above the next lowest leaflet of five leaves (i.e., deadheading) and by removing any dead or diseased canes.
Rose care annual calendar
For more tips about caring for your roses year-round, download the Arizona Rose Societies’ calendar on https://rosegarden.mesacc.edu/documents/azrosesocietiesrosecarecalendar.pdf. The links to Arizona rose societies at the end of the document will help you connect with other rose enthusiasts in your area.
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