One of the many tasks we complete this time of year is the pruning of my rose bushes. Pruning is about more than just looks; proper pruning improves the health of the plants, prevents disease, and encourages better flowering.
There are different pruning strategies for different times of the year, but overall the goals are the same - to control its shape, to keep the bush fresh and open, and to allow for better air circulation through the center of the plant. I have grown roses for more than 25-years. Many of the rose varieties I've purchased are highly prized for their petal formations and fragrances, so proper maintenance is very important to keeping them healthy and productive. Here are some photos of our pruning process - enjoy.
This collection of rose bushes is planted in the lilac allee just past my chicken coops and near my tennis court. During summer, this area is filled with various shades of pink, fragrant rose blooms.
Pruning means to lop or cut off any superfluous branches or shoots for better-shaped or more fruitful growth. These roses have thrived in this location, looking fuller every year – in part because of regular pruning.
Wilmer assesses each bush from the bottom, and starts cutting out any of the “3 Ds” – dead, damaged or diseased branches.
Dead wood is typically brown in color, so they are very easy to identify.
Wilmer also looks for any thin or twiggy canes – in general, those that are less than the diameter of a pencil.
Pruning also keeps the rose bushes in proportion to the rest of the garden. Ryan and Wilmer cut about one-third of the bushes.
Look how much is pruned from one bush.
Ryan shows where the cut should be made – always just above a bud eye. The “bud eye” refers to the area on the stem where branching occurs.
On roses, there is always a dormant bud where leaves attach to the stem, so cut right above a set of mature leaves.
When cutting, look for white inside the stem. If it’s brown, cut further down. Healthy wood is always greenish white.
We use Okatsune Hand Pruners, with their distinguishable red and white handles. These eight-inch long shears are made from Izumo Yasuki Japanese steel, and are angled to provide a smooth, clean cut without crushing. Ours come from A.M. Leonard.
Next, Wilmer looks for any stems that cross or rub together.
Removing these from the bottom ensures better growth – when parts of a plant are pruned off it uses its energy to produce new stems and leaves.
Wilmer trims off the tops in line with the rest of the bushes, so everything is uniform and well-shaped.
All of the cuttings are placed into the Kawasaki, so they can be taken to the compost pile.
These are rose hips, also known as rose haws – the seed pods of roses. They aren’t typically seen because many tend to prune the faded rose blossoms to encourage more flowers. Rose hips begin to form in spring or early summer, and then ripen in late summer through autumn.
Rose hips are used for herbal teas, jams, jellies, syrups, rose hip soups, beverages, pies, breads, wines, and marmalades. They can also be eaten raw, like a berry – just be sure to avoid the hairs inside.
Here is the inside of a rose hip, with its seeds and flesh. The best time to harvest rose hips is after the first frost, when they are sweeter.
What a difference – well-shaped, and ready for a winter’s nap.
The lilac bushes are next in line to be pruned.
This is what the rose bushes look like in summer, when in full bloom.
An array of white and pink roses underneath lilacs that are white and shades of violet and blue. And, underplanted with catnip transplanted from my clematis pergola.