Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Rose Ready

Late April to early May is the best time to prune roses along the Front Range.  Mountain gardeners should wait a few more weeks. Pruning stimulates growth and removes dead canes, so if done too early and we get frosty nights, sensitive new growth may be damaged. The goal is to open up the plant so the sun can get in and help the plant bloom. Prune into live growth on stems that are part green, part dead. Yes, there is a right and wrong way to prune for best results (in a nut shell - close to an inch above a live outward facing bud at a 45 degree angle). Excellent photos and explanation of all the fine points to pruning can be found on this link -

I just pruned a couple of roses, one is a one year-old 'Julia Child' floribunda with a few dead canes. The other is a 'Ruby Voodoo' shrub rose (relocated last year, so it's still pretty small). On the 'Julia' you can see all the nice growth at the base, so all I had to do was prune down close to the crown and remove dead canes. Sharp tools are important. I use by-pass pruners, loppers or a saw for large canes on large roses. Do not use non-by pass pruners, they crush stems, photo below. 

'Julia Child' Floribunda

Sharp tools are key - by-pass pruners, loppers, hand saw

This type of pruner will only crush the rose stems

'Ruby Voodoo' Shrub Rose

Later today I'll water the freshly pruned roses, then carefully work in some dry fertilizer at the base, removing the mulch first then watering again after replacing the mulch. I use Mile-Hi Rose Feed, simply the best organic fertilizer out there, I use it on edibles too.

'Julia Child' all pruned, ready to grow and bloom!

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