Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Winter Rose Pruning

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The freezing weather has left us for a while. Today it was fabulous and in the 50's. I was able to work in the garden and let the sun shine on my face. Woot.

Manly wanted to take advantage of this weather and wash his motorcycle. That is when he discovered that one of the pipes had burst. It was in the wall behind the outside water faucet. No worries. He fixed it right up and we are back in business.

One of the roses is right in front of the faucet and had to be pruned so he could fix the pipe. I just kept pruning after I had made room for him to work.

I believe that I could actually give rose pruning lessons. I am good at it and the roses thrive.

Here is the short list of how I do it.

Get prepared - Wear long sleeves and gloves. Own a good pair of pruners. Mine are Felco.

The first step is to cut the sucker back. My roses are allowed to be as tall as my shoulders and must be within the boundary of the flowerbed edging, which makes them about 3 x 4.5 feet.

After the rose pruned to the right size, check for dead wood and crossed wood. Dead canes should come out to avoid spreading disease and for aesthetics. Crossed wood needs to come out for the same reasons. The canes will rub and open the plant up to disease problems. Crossed canes also look bad.

The final thing I do is look deep into the bush and check for canes shooting off in weird directions. I take those out, which opens up the rose bush.

I try to cut each cane just above a spot where there is a little node poking out in the direction in which I want the rose bush to grow. It, isn't always possible, but this helps avoid crossed wood and wonky growth in the future.

Today, I pruned Maggie, Mme Joseph Schwarts and the Mutabalis. These are big rose bushes. The container shown in the picture is about a 20 gallon cattle feed bucket. If you know anyone who raises cattle get yourself a couple of those buckets. They are very useful in the garden.

I do not compost rose canes. I did, but then was injured by thorns later when I turned the compost. I burn the trimmings in our little Chiminea.

These are directions for areas where roses really do not go dormant. Ours' stay pretty much evergreen.

Happy Winter Gardening y'all.


  1. Great post. I won't be pruning anything for a couple of months yet, other than to bring in some twigs for forcing.
    Debbi, I can't get your feed to work at Blotanical through the new posts feeds; it comes up saying there's an error. I dunno if this is on Stuart's end or not (no one has heard from him since about November) but it makes it hard to read your new posts, which I really enjoy!I've added myself to your followers so that may help. I hate to miss useful, interesting posts like this just because I'm not getting notifications.

  2. I love roses, but don't have a lot of luck with them. I inherited a patio rose, already potted, which I dare not disturb. I feed and water it, and it is happy. Someday I will have to prune it, I'll refer back to this post.

  3. Here in Michigan, we (well, I mean I, really, when I had gardening clients) trim back twice... once to about 24 inches in fall just to make them more manageable (also easier to mulch around) and then in spring down to about 6-12 inches. Rose canes are damaged in frost from the top down, so that's why we leave extra over the winter. Eh yep.

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  5. Excellent instructions, Debbi, and thank God that pipe was an easy fix! But oh my, to think your roses are still green. The only green to be seen around here is in our evergreens and English ivy (not to mention my face when I have to think about going outside!)...

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  8. I'll need this information for the new roses I bought! Thanks Debbi.
    Hope everything is ok with you. Missing your great stories! :)