(also consult the American Rose Society : Pruning)
Annual heavy pruning is essential to insure the prolific bloom and long-life of a rose bush.
Explaining the concept of rose pruning without a live bush to demonstrate on is difficult, so let your mind loose to help visualize the following steps in rose pruning.
Pruning of roses is actually done year round. Every time you cut off old blooms and remove twiggy growth you are actually promoting new growth. There are two times a year when you prune more seriously, spring and fall.
You will need the following items:
Steps to Pruning Roses - Spring
Spring pruning in South Central is normally done between the third week of February and-the first week of March. The length of time taken for a bush to bloom depends on the number of petals in the bloom and how deeply it has been pruned. For multi-petalled roses, the spring blooming can take as long as 60-70 days, while fewer petalled varieties can take 35-40 days. Weather is also a factor in bloom cycles. Cool and warmer temperatures will weather will lengthen these periods cause the soil to heat up faster and blooming to occur sooner.
Miniatures - In the spring it is best to cut miniatures almost down to the ground ( i.e., 2 to 3 inches). Moreover, if they are over three years old it is a good idea to divide them by cutting the whole plant in half or more. Be sure to leave some roots on each division.
Old-Fashioned (Antique) and Shrubs - Remove any dead canes and lightly trim remainder of bush, removing about a third of the growth. Mass blooming is the aim with these roses. Additional light grooming throughout the year is encouraged since everblooming varieties bloom on new wood. Varieties that bloom only once during the season should be pruned AFTER they have bloomed since they bloom on old wood.
General - If the bush is over two years old, cut out one or more of the oldest and largest canes using a keyhole saw. Also, clean off the bud union with a dull knife. Seal any large cuts with Elmer's glue or shellac. Remove debris from beds and any leaves remaining on bush after pruning is completed.
Steps to Pruning Roses - Fall
The fall pruning is lighter than in the spring and consists of removing twiggy and unproductive growth along with any crossing or dead canes. All foliage is left on the bush at this time. Labor Day is a good time to do the fall "grooming."
Climbers are not pruned in the same manner as Hybrid Teas. To encourage growth of more flowering laterals and stimulate production of new canes, you should not cut back long canes unless they are outgrowing the allotted space. Varieties differ in this respect since some will produce new canes from the base each year, while others build up a woody structure and produce long, new canes from a position higher up on the plant. Thus, when pruning, the following practices are recommended:
Everblooming varieties -- Cut back to two or three bud eyes all laterals that bore flowers during the past year. Remove any dead, diseased or twiggy growth. For established plants, oldest canes are removed annually at the base. Remaining canes are repositioned and secured, if necessary. For routine maintenance, remove all spent blooms and cut back to a strong bud eye. Canes are tied in place as they mature. Avoid attempting to do this before the wood matures, as soft tender growth is easily broken off.
Ramblers and once blooming varieties - These types should be pruned after blooming as they will normally bloom on year old wood. Thus, after spring bloom, cut out old, unproductive wood and weak canes.
A good practice is to avoid severe pruning for the first two or three years after planting, as it takes this long for most climbers to mature. During this period, remove all dead and weak canes and spent blooms (in some instances, climbers will bloom very little for the first couple of years). New canes of most climbers should be trained horizontally to encourage the growth of flowering laterals. Strips of old pantyhose make good "ties". Pillar roses will grow and bloom upright.
Summer Care of Roses
Summer is the most important time of the year for continued care of rose bushes. Most people have a tendency to slack off due to an increase in other activities. For bushes to be healthy and productive, they must have water. One to two inches a week is generally recommended. Keep an eye on beds next to a fence or house, even after a good rainfall there is an excellent possibility they will still be dry. Maintain a systematic spray program. To maintain moisture in beds, keep mulch on the beds.
Fungus diseases are not as prevalent in the summer months. Blackspot and powdery mildew, however, can be a problem if a regular spray program is not maintained. The spray interval can be lengthened to 10-14 days if we are having the hot, dry summer that we usually can expect in this area.
A regular spray program for insects is not necessary. Too much spray is harmful to the plants, so only spray when insects are present. Thrip are persistent warm weather insects. For control of these pests, start spraying the buds every couple of days, prior to sepals coming down, with Orthene or Cygon. If this doesn't eliminate them, continue spraying after the bloom has opened as these insecticides will not harm the petals. The spider mite is another warm weather invader, which, if left unchecked, will cause the leaves to eventually shrivel and fall off. Some degree of control can be obtained by using an insecticidal soap spray or water washing the underside of the foliage every three days or so with a hard spray of water.
Continual light feeding of roses during the summer months is recommended in this area. if using a granular food, use monthly. During the hottest months, a weaker solution of liquid food may be used.