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Rose Selection and Pruning

Rose Selection and Pruning

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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Larry Sagers Horticultural Specialist Utah State University Extension Service Thanksgiving Point Office © All Rights Reserved

Given the changeable spring weather it is possible that you do not think that everything is coming up roses. These versatile plants are the most popular flowering shrubs in Utah. They come with several strong credentials-- they have a long blooming season, great diversity of size and color of the blossoms and an adaptation to many different climates and conditions.

Of course just when you thought you could put away the pruning shears you have to prune the roses. Any discussion of pruning roses must include a basic understanding of how the various types of roses grow. The plants are classified by their growth habits and flowering characteristics. The following classifications include most of the roses that will grow in Utah.

Pruning roses improves the 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. The type of rose dictates how and when to prune. Remember that roses that bloom on wood that grew the previous year are pruned after they flower while those that bloom on new wood are pruned while they are still dormant. Treat large pruning cuts with pruning sealer to prevent borers from entering the stem.

Prune bush roses (hybrid teas, grandifloras, and floribundas) in the spring before growth starts. Remove all dead wood. Cut 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" 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. More severe pruning is done on hybrid teas to induce longer stem length and larger blossoms. Longer canes produce more blossoms with shorter stems.

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 three seasons nor allow them to get too crowded. Hybrid tea climbers and large flowered ramblers that are not cold hardy are pruned during the dormant season. Remove broken or diseased or winterkilled canes.

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 old fashioned or species roses according to their bloom. Single season bloomers are pruned after they bloom. Cuts 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. Treat large pruning cuts with pruning sealer to prevent borers from entering the stem.

Summer pruning improves rose quality. Remove unwanted growth including suckers, weak or spindly shoots, and damaged canes. Cutting flowers is also pruning and helps keep buds developing. Cut flowers to the first five leaflet leaf as this results in more vigorous growth. Leave at least two or more five leaflet leaves on the remaining canes. Remove only the flowers so that the maximum leaf surface is left on newly planted roses. Don't allow seedpods or rose hips to form until time for the plants to harden for winter.

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