Hybrid Tea, Floribunda, Knockout, and Drift Roses can be pruned heavily in the late winter/early spring. Look at your rose plants. When you notice that the buds are beginning to break dormancy, or as they begin to swell, it is time to prune. In the Lowcountry this is usually around the middle of February.
Begin by choosing sharp pruning shears or loppers. Bypass pruners work best and will make the cleanest cut. Be sure to wear protective clothing and gloves.
Pruning roses is actually easy to do! Here’s how:
1. Remove all dead, damaged or weak stems leaving only the most vigorous, healthy canes.
2. Between cuts, dip your shears in a 25% bleach solution (1 part bleach to 3 parts water) to minimize the possibility of spreading disease.
3. For grafted roses, remove any sucker growth, or shoots, which are growing from the rootstock at the base of the plant.
4. Prune your roses to make the plants more open in the center. This will increase air circulation and help prevent diseases. Make a cut ⅛-¼ inch above the bud at the same angle as the bud.
5. Prune remaining canes to create the desired shape, leaving anywhere from 1-3 feet of cane depending on personal preference.
6. Prune weak-growing and first-year plants lightly. For new plants, a light pruning will allow them to put more energy into establishing a strong root system.
Roses that bloom only once a year, old-fashioned and climbing should be pruned after flowering because they flower on old wood.
As always, if you have any question come on by, we’ll be happy to help you!