Pruning is a simple and necessary part of keeping a rose healthy, strong and blooming. If you prune the rose wrong, you may not get a lot of flowers the following year, or none at all, but there is no wrong way to prune that will kill an established rose.
If anything, if you can live with a couple of years of no flowers, the rose will get a lot of rest and renewed energy for new growth.
Why prune roses
There are four reasons to prune roses: remove old and diseased canes to make room for more growth, allow air movement, shape the bushes to your liking and encourage blooming.
What roses to prune
1. Do not prune shrub, species and old garden roses (the once a year blooming roses) in spring! Some examples would be Albas, Damasks, Moss Roses and Gallicas. These roses generally have a tall growth habit and bloom on old wood. If you prune them in spring, you will cut out all the new year’s flower growth. Prune after blooming to remove diseased canes, make sure there is enough air movement to keep the rose bushes healthy and promote new growth. Allow the tall Albas and Centifolias to reach their full height and prune only laterally. Wait for two years before starting pruning, because flowers appear on second year wood.
2. For modern roses such as Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, Grandifloras, and Hybrid Perpetuals prune with confidence up to 2/3 of the plant growth. They will grow back stronger for it. Remove canes that are larger than 1/2 inch in diameter and everything in the middle of the bush, to allow plant to develop and prevent overcrowding. Remove any canes that have winter damage. Leave three or four well spaced young canes per bush, making sure that growth is outward facing (see section about pruning cuts).
3. Cut back Bourbons by 1/3 of growth, after a couple of years. Remove lateral shoots.
4. Do not prune young roses and newly planted roses at all. They need all the growth they have.
5. For Miniature roses and Polyanthas, clean out dead and diseased canes and then cut them back to the height you want.
6. For landscaping roses, you can take the hedge shaper and cut across to the height you want.
7. Climbers and Ramblers, regardless of the fact that they are single or repeat bloomers should be pruned during the dormant season. Do not prune at all during the first two or three years, just remove the dead canes. After that prune back only old canes enough to remove clutter and promote new growth. Ramblers bloom on second year wood, so prune cautiously.
How to prune roses
The general rule of thumb for pruning cuts is a 45 degree cut that is made 1/4 inch above an outward facing bud, with the cut facing towards the inside of the bush. Remove all crossing, diseased or winter damaged canes. Remove old woody canes and canes larger than 1/2 inch in diameter.
When to prune
Prune old roses after they finished blooming to allow new growth before the cold season.
Prune perpetual blooming roses at the end of winter, beginning of spring, when new buds start developing. Pruning too early encourages roses to generate new shoots that get damaged by frosts, pruning too late makes the plant expend a lot of energy on growth that will be removed anyway. A good rule for the Midwest is to prune roses when the forsythia blooms.
Last, but not least, always use sharp clean pruning shears. I recommend disinfecting them with alcohol to prevent the spread of disease to the roses while pruning.
This last winter storm left us with some fallen branches among crystal roses. It is so eerie to walk around the frozen garden whose branches and twigs sound like glass wind chimes when the breeze moves them.
Barren twigs thickly covered in ice emit their own light due to a strange refraction phenomenon. There are a few more pictures on flickr.
“Angel Wings” is a precious miniature China rose with flowers and fragrance reminiscent of apple blossoms. It will grow from seed. I bought it too late to plant in the garden before the frost, so I parked it indoors, and look what happened!
I can hardly wait for these flowers to go to seed, this is an open pollinated rose! It was not bothered one bit by the fact that it is the middle of winter indoors.
“Angel Wings” has delicate little clusters of fragrant flowers white, rose and pink and it is hardy to zone 5. Great for landscaping, it grows in compact mounds that spread 2-3 feet, and can even be used as an annual started from seed. It will bloom the first year. This rose is not patented, so you can propagate it from seed, soft cuttings, hard cuttings, you name it!
I’m almost tempted to start one in a pot and keep it indoors. Never say never…
I hurried out to the front yard this morning to gather these few late bloomers before the rain started. The roses are still blooming: there are quite a few buds which may still open with a lot of cooperation from the weather. It is cold, though, really!
Today was one of those dreary days when light is served at fifty percent intensity. At noon it looked like dusk, at five it was already night. Brr! There is nothing better on a day like this, when every gardener deplores the dried up, scrunched up state of the almost dormant garden, than making all things beautiful and fragrant. So today was potpourri day.
There will be some time until the rose petals and the rest of the flowers dry, but what a treat! Lucky for me, the camera has a flash, which was automatically triggered for ALL the pictures (to give you an idea how dark it was in the house).
The flash brought back all the brightness of summer and reminded me that these flowers have been in the garden since spring, going unnoticed at times. The pictures attached bring some late justice and some most needed cheerfulness to the page.
I am sure that even after they dry, these striking colors will remain. Rose-calendula-jasmine potpourri to come soon.
To dry rose petals, you can either hang the roses upside down in a dry, warm, well ventilated space or if you have enough room, treat yourself with this beautiful spread of colorful petals on paper towels over a wire rack. Store the dry petals in airtight glass containers until ready to use. Rose petals shrink significantly while they dry and lose a lot of their scent. Add a few drops of essential rose oil to bring back the fragrance.
Soon: decorative scented candles.
Though a little late, there is still time to order bare root roses for next spring. Most nurseries will take orders now and deliver the root stock in spring, at the appropriate planting time. Roses are very popular, especially the old fashioned Damasks, Bourbons, Portlands, Albas, and Chinas. If you are lucky, you might still find some of them available in Spring, but they’ll most likely be sold out. It is a real treat every year (although I feel like a kid in a candy store) to go through rose catalogs and pick some to add to the garden.
This year there are at least two on the list:
Tuscany, one of the oldest surviving Gallicas, with ancestry going back at least to the sixteenth century. It only blooms once a year, but it more than makes up for it by having the most exquisitely beautiful burgundy-black flowers with bright yellow middles. The softness of its petals and their extraordinary color earned it the nickname “Velvet Rose”. Its fragrance fills the air and it has a compact, disease resistant and low spreading growth which makes this rose plant perfect for landscaping.
Blanc Double de Coubert, a hybrid Rugosa that blooms continuously, has very fragrant semi-double white flowers with beautiful yellow eyes, and produces bright orange hips for fall interest.
My cousin just sent me her heirloom rose recommendations for zones 5 and above, and I am listing them below:
Moss – recurrent fragrant roses:
Gloire des Mousseux – pink (occasionally recurrent, needs winter protection for zones 5 to 6b)
Mme Louis Lévêque – lilac
Perpetual White Moss – white
Damascs – recurrent fragrant:
Kazanlik (Trigintipetala) – pink semidouble rose used for atar of roses, occasionally recurrent, extremely fragrant
Comte de Chambord Blanc de Vibert – white with green middle
Léda – unbelievable white soft blooms with a magenta tinge, the words don’t do it justice, please look it up, it will be worth your effort. It is only occasionally recurrent.
Albas – non recurent:
Félicité Parmentier – rose white clusters of fragrant flowers, long blooming period
Great Maidens Blush – large bush, blooms in the shade, highly praised rose, white.
Mme Plantier – climber with lots of blooms
Konigin von Denmark – pink, blooms continuously, but not on the same branches
Hybrid Musks – recurrent
Felicia Felicite Perpetue – continuous bloom
Rose propagation is a really simple process, however the success rate is by no means 100%, so make sure to take lots of cuttings from your favorite roses; you can always move your new plants in spring if the location is not perfect. Also keep in mind that many nursery roses are patented and their asexual reproduction even for personal use is illegal. Those roses usually come with tags asserting the patent. If you are not sure, check your rose name online to see if it is listed as “under patent”. Patents usually expire after 20 years, so most of the old world roses are patent free. People swear by different methods of propagating roses from cuttings: the little plastic baggies, the cut-up soda pop bottle, the misting. I tried all methods and only found success with this one, so I’m going to recommend it. You might be wondering why the glass jar will work and the plastic bottle won’t? The answer is “I don’t know”.
Cut a healthy stem, still green but stiff at a 45 degree angle. If the cut is far from the next growth bud, cut the remainder of the stem back about a quarter inch above an outward facing bud. If you don’t the rose will do the job for you and kill the useless piece of stem.
The stem you choose should have at least one branch with 5 leaflets, this detail is important. The stem shouldn’t be longer than 6 inches. Remove any leaves and some people advise all thorns from the bottom part that will be stuck in the ground. Make sure the stem is healthy and free of any pest or damage.
“Bruise” the end that will be in the ground; this will encourage the plant to produce more hormones for rooting. You can bruise it by cutting it lengthwise or smashing it.
If you have rooting hormone, I strongly recommend it: you need to give the young plant all the help you can. Dip the stem in rooting hormone. If you don’t, it will work without it too.
Stick the stem firmly in the ground, it should not be easy to pull out. If the soil is really dry, water it. There is usually enough rain later in the fall to provide sufficient moisture for it. It is best to plant it during or after a rainy, cloudy day, because these conditions put the least stress on the new plant.
Cover the plant with a glass jar. Push the jar into the ground so that it forms a tight seal at the bottom. The jar must remain undisturbed from fall (this is the best time to take rose cuttings) until the next spring. Don’t lift the jar to see how the rose is doing. Remove the jar in spring after all danger of frost is gone.
Different roses take different times to sprout roots, don’t be impatient. You can’t tell whether a rose took just by looking at it. Some will stay green for the longest time and not take root, some will wither immediately but turn into beautiful healthy little rose bushes in spring. The only sure sign that the stem has roots is if you see new growth at the root level, but that is unlikely to happen during the cold season. Again I have to emphasize the fact that the jar needs to stay undisturbed.
As I mentioned earlier, roses are reliable bloomers who don’t like the dead heat of summer, but come fall they will usually grace you again with a second round of blooms.
This veteran “Peace” rose never disappoints: it produces cabbage sized enormous fragrant flowers and it is very healthy and strong. The flowers are long lasting, too.
So, without further ado – rose after the rain: beautiful!
Miniature roses project an aura of frailty, and one would be tempted to shelter them in pots on a windowsill where they will be protected from the elements. Don’t!
First of all, these tiny roses, just like all the other roses, do miserably indoors, where they don’t have enough sunlight and fresh air.
Second, they are some of the toughest, most disease resistant roses I know. They don’t fall prey to the usual black spot, rust or Japanese beetles like their bigger, stronger cousins. They make it through the most aggressive droughts while blooming constantly. They are very successfully propagated from both soft and hard cuttings and put up with the heaviest soils. They will weather temperatures of 10 degrees below zero without protection.
Give them plenty of sun during the growing season, prune them when the forsythia blooms, and give them some food; they need no more.
Miniature roses are great for the front of the border, won’t grow very tall, 24 inches at most, and are absolutely precious. They come in white, cream, hot pink, blush, dark red, lavender, bi-color, and pretty much any color combination you can think of. Unfortunately they are not fragrant.
Does the word combination “care free rose” sound to you like an oxymoron? Give these tiny flowers a try. If they have enough sunlight, they will thrive. Please don’t forget that roses are social plants, they will thrive in mixed plantings and are especially happy around other roses.
A veteran among hybrid teas, the “Peace” rose lives up to its popularity. Healthy, strong and a prolific bloomer, it bears six or seven enormous fragrant flowers at a time. The long lasting flowers start up a creamy white with a delicate rose gradient edging and they fade to butter yellow, slightly darker in the middle. “Peace” has a classic rose fragrance, and its flowers are very suitable for bouquets and flower arrangements. It is a stocky plant with heavy canes and dark green leaves and it likes a well drained site in full sunshine. Roses like company, don’t plant them alone. If you would like your “Peace” to thrive, make sure it is in a border with other roses, and better still, other “Peace” roses.
The “Morden Blush” landscaping rose comes as close to the perfect rose image as possible. It displays bouquets of delicate peachy pink flowers, so many that the canes buckle under their weight. It does not have fragrance, but what it lacks in scent it more than makes up in color and versatility. It is a wonderful unpretentious landscaping rose with a relatively low compact growth that is a perfect fit for massing borders or sloped sites. Plant it mixed with old fashioned perennials for a romantic cottage garden look. It contrasts beautifully with cobalt blue delphiniums and blue-lavender asters.