Happy January! The Christmas flurry has come and gone and it’s time to get back in the garden. This is the month to prune back all of your roses. I have included TONS of information about pruning specific rose types. If you have typical shrub roses, feel free to skip to the bottom and watch my short how-to video.
There are a few reasons why pruning in January is so important for the health of your roses. First of all, the climate in FresYes doesn’t get cold enough for roses to go completely dormant. Roses need a bit of a rest before they resume spring growth. Cutting back the roses and removing leftover foliage helps the roses go into a bit of a dormancy. Secondly, cutting back roses allows the height to be controlled. Ever notice old roses in yards that haven’t been maintained? They can get pretty tall. Some varieties can easily exceed 10 feet! Finally, cutting back roses also involves thinning. Thinning out entire branches will allow fewer but healthier and larger blooms in the spring. Thinning out will also allow better air circulation helping to lessen the possibility of mildew diseases.
The most common types of roses in FresYes yards are Hybrid teas and Grandifloras. They tend to have larger, single blossoms per stem rather than the multiple blossoms per stem on floribundas. These roses tend to make the best cut flowers too. Ideally you want to end up with a bush about 8 inches to one foot tall with branches [or canes] spaced as evenly apart and as close in shape to a vase as possible. Many times this is easier said than done! But the closer you can get, the better. When cutting down the bush, take note of branches that are very close to each other or crossing over each other. Remove one of the two branches. It is also a good idea to remove any branches toward the middle of the plant. This allows better air circulation as mentioned above. Always cut just above a bud. You will notice buds on the stem either where a leaf is coming out or a small red bump on the stem. Furthermore, each bud points a different direction along the stem. You may select a bud pointing towards the outside of the plant for a bigger, bushier plant, or a bud pointing towards the inside of the plant for a narrower bush.
Floribundas are also very popular in the yard. These roses are very heavy bloomers and tend to be slightly shorter than the tea roses. Floribundas tend to have multiple blooms per stem and seem to be showier as a landscape shrub. The most popular floribunda is the “Iceberg” rose which is a very heavy blooming white rose. Pruning a floribunda is the same as above with the exceptions that branches may remain a little closer to each other and some of the middle branches may be left in. This just allows more blossoms to form in the spring. Take note of the location of the buds when pruning back if you are looking for a bushier or a narrower plant.
Miniature roses are becoming very popular in the garden as edging plants or container plants. It is strongly suggested that you buy miniature roses that were field grown and sold in 2 gallon pots rather than the little 4 inch pots you may find at the grocery stores in the spring. These small plants are much more prone to mildew diseases and have very little “wood” to survive a mildew attack.
Miniature roses can usually be cut back to as little as six inches tall. The biggest job with these plants is to thin out entire branches. You may end up thinning out as much as 70 to 80% of all the branches. This needs to be done to allow for the air to circulate and lessen the possibilities of the mildew diseases. Even with this severe clean out of branches, you will still be left with many more branches than the other types of rose bushes in your yard.
Climbers are a different story than the other roses listed. Climbers bloom best off of old wood. All of the other roses mentioned bloom off of new wood. Therefore, climbers do not need to be cut back as hard. You may cut them back to control the height and still want to thin out much of the side growth. Rather than a vase shape, climbers usually end up with more of a flat, fan shape. This allows for greater spread on your fence or trellis rather than being a bush plant that may get into flower beds and walkways.
***Many times, climbing roses will not bloom well the first year after purchasing them because they are young plants with new wood. Usually by the second year climbers will bloom much better.
Lastly, are tree roses. I used an “Iceberg” tree rose for my rose pruning video. Depending upon the type of tree rose you have…Hybrid tea, grandiflora, floribunda or miniature, simply follow the above instructions. Just treat the top of the trunk as your soil line when doing your pruning. As an example, prune your hybrid tea rose back to 8 to 12 inches from the top of the trunk, not the soil level.
Roses are not nearly as high maintenance and scary to grow as many think. Start by choosing roses that grow well in our hot, dry climate. Then, follow these simple pruning rules. Finally, be sure to fertilize regularly during the growing season. Happy Gardening!!