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Perfect Roses

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In spite of their popularity here and across the nation, most people who have roses have little understanding of how best to grow them. As with most plants, pruning remains a mystery. This mystery is easily solved with a little education. Unless you imagine yourself surrounded with the roses and briers of Sleeping Beauty’s fairytale castle, remember pruning is good for the plants. To understand how to prune you must understand how the plants grow. All roses are classified by their growth habits and flowering characteristics. Pruning is based on these characteristics. Hybrid teas are the most popular roses. They have showy blooms throughout the growing season. Plants are two to five feet high depending on cultural conditions and pruning techniques. Buds are long and pointed with single flowers or clusters of three to five usually double flowers per stem. These make excellent cut flowers. They are not completely hardy and need winter protection. Floribunda flowers are similar in size, shape and color to hybrid tea blossoms. They are borne in clusters with short stems. Floribunda roses are hardy, disease resistant, low growing shrubs. Use them in beds where you want many flowers. Grandiflora roses are the crosses of hybrid tea roses. The flowers are borne singly or in clusters on longer stems, and the blossoms resemble hybrid teas. They are larger than hybrid teas and grow three to six feet tall. Prune hybrid tea, grandiflora and floribunda roses in the spring before growth starts. These types bloom on wood that grows this season. More severe pruning is done on hybrid teas to induce longer stem length and larger blossoms. Longer canes produce more blossoms with shorter stems. Start by removing all dead wood. Select three to five main canes arranged in a circular pattern around the center of the plant. Cut the stems at a uniform height, leaving as much good wood as possible. Make cuts 1/4" above a strong outward facing bud. Canes can be left as long as 24-30" this year but after most winters they are pruned to 12" because of winter damage. After severe winter damage, it may not be possible to do more than keep the living wood without regards to correct plant shaping. Most other roses bloom on wood that grew the previous year. These are not pruned as extensively because there would be no buds left to produce blossoms this year. Those that only bloom once in the spring are pruned after they flower to encourage more buds the following season. Miniature roses are tiny versions of various roses. Miniatures grow less than two feet high and are often used in mass plantings or borders. They are becoming popular as specimen or indoor plants. Prune these to shape or to remove broken, dead or diseased wood. Shrub roses are hardy, spreading plants that require little maintenance or pruning. Varieties grow four to 12 feet tall with many canes and thick foliage. Flowers can be single or double and are borne at the ends of the canes or on branches along the canes. Some flower once in the spring while others flower continuously. Shrub roses produce many rose hips after flowering. Prune old fashioned or species roses according to their bloom. Single season bloomers are pruned after they bloom. Cut long canes back a third and trim the lateral canes back a few inches. Repeat bloomers are pruned to shape and are not cut back. Remove old canes as they lose vigor or become too crowded and damaged canes or unwanted, misdirected growth. Climbing and rambler roses have long, arching canes. Roses do not actually climb and must be attached to trellises, arbors, or fences. Climbing roses have many different colors or types of blooms. Large-flowered climbers have stiff, thick canes up to 10 feet long and bloom through the summer and fall. Ramblers have long, thin canes and small clusters of flowers that bloom in early summer. Prune climbing roses to make them fit the growing area. Training canes horizontally produces more flowers. Heading back long canes stimulates lateral growth for more blossoms and foliage. Prune hardy rambler and climbing roses after flowering. Remove dead or diseased canes and take out old, weak canes. Don't let canes grow for more than four seasons nor allow them to get too crowded. Many hybrid tea climbers and large-flowered ramblers are not vigorous and are pruned during the dormant season. Remove broken or diseased canes and those damaged by cold temperatures. Tree roses are classified by growth form rather than flower types. They are created by grafting bush roses onto an upright trunk. Use them as accents in formal gardens or as specimen plants. Tree roses are not cold hardy and need special winter protection. Prune any sprouts that come on the trunk and prune the head to a nice rounded shape. Pruning improves plant appearance and health by removing dead, diseased, weak and broken wood. It controls suckers from the rootstock and promotes large, beautiful flowers. Unpruned plants become overgrown with small, poor quality flowers. Use high quality tools including fine tooth saws, loppers, and hand shears. Take back your castle and do not let the thorns and briers take over. Get the largest and most attractive blossoms on well shaped rose plants. Join me for a one of our rose growing and pruning workshops at the Thanksgiving Point Gardens. Workshops are being held on Monday, March 18th from 1-3pm, on Thursday March 21 from 1-3 pm and on Saturday March 23rd from 10am to noon. Call 801-768-4971 to register. Larry A. Sagers Regional Horticulturist Utah State University Extension Thanksgiving Point Office

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