Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pruning a Bush Rose

How to Prune a Bush Rose

When you're new to gardening, it’s easy to get the impression that rose pruning is a bit of a mysterious art. Don't be put off! Don't think there is an absolutely right or wrong way; there are better and worse ways but even if you don't prune in the recommended way you are unlikely to damage or kill a plant.
Pruning helps roses to produce vigorous new shoots. These will be free from disease and give you the best possible display of flowers. How hard you prune depends on the rose type: the ones that need extensive pruning each year are bush roses.

Roses are pruned when they're dormant or semi-dormant. This means you can prune either in autumn after leaf fall or in spring, when buds are beginning to break. Spring pruning has the advantage that frost damaged shoots can be removed at the same time.
It's also easier to distinguish good buds in spring too. You need to find these and make good clean cuts just above them. The basics of pruning bush roses are given. Certain principles apply to all types of roses.

Supplies and Tools
Sharp good quality secateurs - the by-pass type; strong protective gloves; rubbish sack or wheelbarrow for disposal of the pruning. Optional: long handled secateurs or pruners; a small pruning saw (for older plants); protective goggles (if you have to really get into woody plants); fertiliser if pruning in spring; hoe or rake.

Your objective is to remove all unproductive growth which stops the main shoots from producing a good display on a balanced framework or uncluttered stem system. Start by cutting out all stems which cross each other. Then remove all twiggy growth that only bears one or two leaves. Brown dead wood and any other stems that show signs of disease and damage should also be cut out. You are aiming to allow air to circulate through the centre of the rose. If you have a group of roses planted together, you should aim to make the group look uncluttered.

Cut main shoots back to within 20-30cm of the ground. Make your pruning cuts clean and angled, directly above a bud facing outwards. If you cut too far from a bud it may leave you with a small tip that dies back to the bud. Too close, and you may damage the bud, or snag it. If this happens, disease can enter the stem and cause die-back. With cluster-flowered bushes, cut main shoots back to between 30-40cm, depending on the height of your rose, then reduce side shoots by between one to two thirds, cutting back to a bud.

Shrub roses, as opposed to bush roses, need only light pruning. This is because most modern and old shrub roses flower on wood that's at least two years old. So you prune lightly to leave the flowering wood in place. Restrict pruning to cutting out crossing branches and dead, damaged or diseased wood.

After spring pruning, scatter some slow-release fertiliser around the base of your rose. Lightly scratch this into the surface of the soil, using a hoe or rake.

The above picture is of one of my roses that I pruned last Autumn and now has new leaves, it will be beautiful when in bloom, the roses start out pink and when fully bloomed are lavender.