Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Perfectly Pruned Roses

Careful winter pruning will get your roses off to a good start in spring. Take time in January to prune your hybrid tea and shrub roses (leaving plants that flower only once a year until late winter or early spring). Here’s a pruning how-to guide:

Use bypass hand pruners for the job, and be sure to wear long sleeves and thick gloves. Bypass pruners cut when the sharp blade passes by the anvil blade; this ensures a clean cut without smashing the stem. Bypass pruners come in different sizes—find one that fits comfortably in your hand. Bypass pruners are great for cutting stems no bigger around than your thumb; for larger stems, it’s best to use a short- or long-handled lopper, both of which come in the bypass style, too.

Jackson & Perkins Florence Nightingale

The first task when pruning roses is to tackle the three D’s: dead, dying or diseased branches. Cut these back to the next largest stem. Next, cut out crossing stems and all of those thin, twiggy ones: this will give your rose more air circulation and reduce its susceptibility to disease.

Now prune the rose so that it ends up half its original height. It’s a rose rule-of-thumb to prune back to an outward facing bud. Take a look at the stem and you’ll see small red nubs among the thorns. Those are the buds just waiting to break into new growth. Make a slightly slanted cut just above that bud, so that the new growth branches off naturally, without leaving a stub behind.

The advantage of pruning to an outward facing bud—which directs growth out, not towards the interior of the shrub—is that you end up with a vase-shaped plant. Sometimes it’s not easy to find a bud that faces out at a place you want to cut. If they all seem to face toward the center of the shrub, look above or below that place on the stem for the next bud that is facing generally outward.

If your roses suffer from black spot, which can show up on stems as well as leaves, you can prevent the spread of this disease by disinfecting your tools. Dip the blades in alcohol, then wipe them off (don’t use bleach, because it can corrode the metal).

source: Home Depot

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