Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Basics. Prune or Rejuvenate?

Nothing frightens a new rose grower more than the dreaded "P" word - pruning.  It's a rose chore that has become so amazingly complicated it sends many a rose grower screaming for the shovel feeling the best way to prune is dig the #%&$* rose out and be done with it.

First off for Garden Roses forget about all the outward facing bud eye, five leaflet leaf set, 45 degree angle cut, seal with glue, stand on one leg and wear red underwear stuff.  With a Garden Rose you aren't pruning a rose you are merely shaping and cleaning up a flowering shrub. Clean out dead wood, twiggy weak growth and shape it up.  That's it really.

Which brings me to something you do want to do as the roses get older.  Cut out an old cane on a regular basis.  What is an old cane?  It's a cane that has stopped producing new growth and blooms.  I call it "bloomed out".  At this point the cane is only taking energy away from the more productive growth and you are best off getting rid of it.

And in fact it's actually preventing your roses from putting out new canes from the base.  That's right I said preventing.  I've learned over time the best way to get new canes from the base of a rose is to cut out an old cane right down to the ground.  Generally for every old cane I cut out I get 2-3 new ones.  Not a bad trade off!

That's why I call it rejuvenating and not pruning.  Cutting out dead growth, twiggy stuff and the occasional old cane spurs new, fresh growth that will bear a lot more flowers.  Rejuvenation.

I also like the word because to me it says I'm doing this for the future not for the past.  But more on that later.  Stay tuned!

Here is a video that might help.

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