A rose pruning guide has just been added to the BexRose web site at:-
You'll find the article under 'Rose Articles'
Any comments, good or bad, will be gratefully recieved.
Web Site: http://home.btconnect.com/cadoss/bexrose
I'm in the midst of spring pruning of my roses so this
information is current as well as useful. I didn't know
about basel stems losing productivity after 3 or 4 years.
Most books I've read simply state "cut off older canes"
without saying why. Since I only started my rose garden
late in 1998, and have lost a number of roses to weather or
my ignorance (that process seems to have stabilized, and I
have lost only 1 or 2 roses out of 150 in the past year),
it's only in recent years that I've had roses survive long
enough to have older canes. :)
The only question I might have about cutting back canes due
to age is whether that applies to old garden or antique
roses. Many of them seem to have a longer life span than
moderns (due to growing in their own roots??), so I wonder
if the advice about cutting out 4 year old canes should be
conditioned by the type of rose bush.
Other than that the article seems very clear to me,
including all the important information and written very
near San Antonio TX USA Zone 8
Thanks for your feedback.
I must confess that I am no expert when it comes to old garden roses, but
those varieties that I have noticed in my travels appear to fall into one of
two groups. The group that produces minimal new flowering growth from the
base I would put into the same category as a Floribunda type. The other type
that produces new growth that has borne no flowers should be treated more
like a rambler.
There are exceptions to every rule and cutting back stems due to age could
well be one of them, especially when dealing with old garden roses. A rose
bush that produces ample new growth each year can have older growth cut back
hard or cut out without causing problems and this will keep your plant
forever young. On the other hand older growth can be retained, with light or
no pruning, especially if there are insufficient new stems to replace these.
In some cases it is possible to leave older growth, on some old garden
varieties, for more than three or four years. Decreasing vigour of older
stems will then become your warning signal to remove the stem when the time
is right. But don't forget that in general pruning has a regenerative effect
on roses and can prompt new growth where there was previously no sign of
As a general rule I would still prune wood from a plant that has produced no
new basal growth in the previous season. Pruning two third of stems lightly
and one third hard. Remember also that any new stems that have not as yet
flowered should not be pruned, unless of course they are blind shoots.
Web Site: http://home.btconnect.com/cadoss
Makes sense. I'm not as good an observer of my roses as I
should be, so I hack away in early spring and hope for the
due to age could
I have a New Dawn climber that has one cane 2" in diameter
and it was planted in late 1999, so it's not all that old.
I read in several of my rose books that as long as a cane is
productive, not to cut it. I was agonizing over cutting out
that huge cane, which probably accounts for 50% of the bush.
Just to be sure, I plan to check with the nice people at a
local Antique Rose Emporium and if they say to cut it out, I
older growth cut back
keep your plant
On the other hand older growth can be retained, with light
to replace these.
Those are good points. I have several roses that aren't
very vigorous, but I like the blooms a lot and rather than
shovel prune them I nurse them along on 1 or maybe 2 canes.
I could replace them with a rose of the same variety, I
suppose, and hope the new version would do better. I have
tried adding epsom salts to the soil and even roughing up
the bud union a bit with a file or metal brush to try to
encourage basel breaks. Sometimes it works, sometimes it
some old garden
vigour of older
stem when the time
previously no sign of
My problem is I'm mostly a casual rosarian. I'm good about
water, food and pruning, but I don't observe carefully so
couldn't tell you about the growth & bloom habits of most of
my roses, other than at the extremes, e.g. - Teasing Georgia
is a growin', bloomin' fool, and Purple Tiger barely
survives, producing only a few blooms. I think a good goal
for this year is to take notes about which canes produce
blooms, and which don't.
that has produced no
I like that rule. :)
Pruning two third of stems lightly
I've done that on a number of roses this season. Nice to
know my "guess" was right!
Well, I didn't follow that rule on some of my most vigorous
plants, else I wouldn't be able to prune much! I don't
like pruning new growth but sometimes it's justified, e.g.
to keep the center of the bush open. It's humid enough here
that that is a concern, and warm enough that in most years
the roses don't go completely dormant, and are putting out
new growth by late January.
Thanks for the additional information. I'm learning, if
Epsom salts contains Magnesium and Sulfur neither of which have
much to contribute to basal breaks.(healthy leaves and chlorophyll)
What you want to try for basal breaks is Alfalfa, either pellets or meal.
I get it in 50 lb bags at my local feed store.
I need to study the subject -- looks like a good introduction.
As I have a lot of room and I'm lazy, my pruning right now
consists of deadheading and removing any deadwood -- and
any crossing canes that might cause a tangle. Nothing else.
As I've recently acquired a mess of hybrid teas on the cheap
(even though they are not my favorite type of rose), I'll probably
have to start pruning them in earnest; the old garden roses seem
perfectly content with what I'm doing, or rather not doing.
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