Rose Pruning Review

Gaga's Garden Floribunda Rose Garden in Illinois

“It’s like déjà vu all over again.” ~ Yogi Berra

Gaga's Garden Floribunda Rose Garden in Illinois
Gaga’s Garden Floribunda Rose Garden in Illinois Featuring Gene Boerner | From Pruned To Bloom

Have you ever experienced déjà vu and wondered: was that true déjà vu or have I actually done the exact same thing at the same time last year? My rose pruning, is a ritualistic Rite of Spring. The ‘Rite of Spring’ is an actual ballet and orchestral concert work by Russian composer, Igor Stravinsky, that when first performed, at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on 29 May 1913, the avant-garde nature of the music and choreography caused a sensation and a near-riot in the audience. I understand, if the symphony is anything like the cacophony of nature during spring and the urge to prune our bushes. Rosarians, and most all gardeners live for spring. It’s that simple. We lift leaves to peek for new growth and basal breaks.

Rosarians live for seeing new basal breaks
Rosarians live for seeing new basal breaks

What Is A Basal Break?

A basal break is a new cane that sprouts from the bud union on grafted roses and from the ground on roses grown on their own root. The most exciting discovery for rose lovers are new basal breaks on their rose bushes. Fresh, renewed growth – the sign of a healthy plant– and a promise of new flowers to come makes our work exciting and worthwhile.Use the proper tools  Corona_Principles_of_Pruning

How Can We Protect Basal Breaks?

'Corona Tools' Principals of Pruning Guide
‘Corona Tools’ Principals of Pruning Guide | Get Your PDF

Today let’s talk about pruning roses and some of the most finite processes that require delicate tools that let you feel like an artist or a surgeon.

Gardeners love to work with their hands. That’s why we love tools. Tools that allow us to do more finite work make us feel in touch with the force of nature.

Its All In The Tools

Corona Needle Nose Pruners
Corona Needle Nose Pruners

You can see by the demonstration in the pictures how the needlenose pruners, loppers and the small fork allow us to get close to delicate growth while protecting it. These are the tools that let you get close and protect delicate new growth. A picture of how these tools work is worth a thousand words.

Corona Convertible Loppers
Corona Convertible Loppers

Have they tools ready. God will find thee work. ~ Charles Kingsley

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President’s Day Rose Pruning Primer

Mr. Lincoln in Full Bloom
Rose Pruning Cart Ready For Rose Pruning Season
Rose Pruning Cart Ready For Rose Pruning Season

I would like to coin a new gardening phrase. Pruning post-traumatic stress disorder (PPTSD) I have it, it’s real, I suffer every President’s Day. It occurred from having pruned right after President’s Day in Texas, the supposed last day of the danger of a deadly killing frost. I relive the horror and the loss of 19 new rose bushes and having to re-prune 200 roses every President’s Day. The temperatures dipped to 8 degrees on March 10th well after the safe time to plant and prune. I lost all my new bushes and all the newly pruned bushes stimulated by my early pruning had to be pruned all over again. Well enough with my cheerful stories. This erroneous information was passed on to an unwitting northerner who grew up in the frozen tundra region on the frigid shores of Lake Michigan in Northern Illinois. Since today is President’s Day I thought I would cheer you all up and tell you again don’t prune too early.

Here is a primer on pruning your roses. It’s the best tips I’ve come up with over the years, as we get ready for the season of pruning.

Depending on the season and upon where you live pruning time can come between the middle of January and the end of April. The idea is to do it soon enough that you will not be cutting off too much new growth, and late enough that you will not promote premature growth. Usually this is just when the buds begin to swell, and then if you do not get a late frost the bushes will be off to a good start.

Pruned late, even after new growth starts, the canes are cut to a swollen dormant bud and the bush will do just fine, so it is probably better to prune late than too early. As I preach due to my disorder PPTSD, late-pruned bushes will bleed, but this has not been shown to be harmful to roses. Bleeding interferes with sealing cut ends but I stopped sealing smaller canes, with no increase in cane borer problems.

In addition to removing dead or diseased canes, there are several reasons for pruning. You want to remove non-productive branches and make room for ones that will make flowers. Remove crossing branches that clutter the bush or damage others. Open up the interior of the bush for ease in spraying and to promote good flowering stems. Remove non-productive canes at the base to promote growth of new vigorous canes. Finally, shape the bush to please you.

Before cutting out canes, you need to look at the branches they produced. If they have long, healthy, new branches, they should be left. If they have nothing but short twiggy non-blooming shoots, remove them. Sometimes there is not much left, but then perhaps the bush should be, as my mother used to say, “shovel pruned” and removed from the garden. We are told to reduce the number of canes to 3-5, but this is not necessarily a good guide.

Corona Garden Snips
Corona Garden Snips

Here are my tips:

  1. Wear tough protective clothing such as denim with long sleeves. It won’t snag as easily as some other fabrics.
  2. Wear thorn resistant gloves such as plastic coated garden gloves, or ones made of flexible leather.
  3. Watch where you put your hands and forearms. Thorns can penetrate almost any fabric I’ve used in the garden. I’ve had thorns penetrate the soles of my shoes, be careful.
  4. Invest in a small pruning or keyhole saw, they are essential for cutting larger canes and getting into tight spaces.
  5. A fairly large cane can be cut with hand shears if the cane is bent gently away from the shears, but I prefer to use a good pair of loppers rather than wrestle with the cane.
  6. Hold the shears so that the blunt blade is on the part to be cut off.
  7. Cut to an outside bud on upright-growing bushes or to an inside bud on spreading type bush. Cut to a bud pointing in the direction you want the branch to grow, the top bud usually will produce the dominant shoot.
  8. Cut to about ¼” of the bud, on a slight slant away from the bud. Cut shorter, the new shoot can break off in the wind, any longer causes unsightly dieback.
  9. If you feel you should seal cuts, use Elmer’s glue, I usually just seal large canes.
  10. Leave as many canes as are hardy and allow space to grow without crowding and are very well shaped.
  11. Learn to grasp the cane gently and very carefully with a slight circular motion.
  12. If you cut or accidentally knock off a branch you meant to leave don’t let it spoil your day. It will brow back.
  13. Do not prune once-blooming roses until they have bloomed.
  14. Prune miniature roses like hybrid teas and floribundas, if you have the time and patience.
  15. Old Garden Roses (OGR) are too diverse in nature to lay down rules. If you know the variety its best to research online for the best pruning for your OGR. In general, the best rule for pruning OGRs for the first two or three years is, “Don’t.”

    'Double Delight' hybrid tea rose, pruned like a vase, fertilized, Canadian Spagnum peat moss layer added, ready for mulch for winter protection
    ‘Double Delight’ hybrid tea rose, pruned like a vase, fertilized, Canadian Spagnum peat moss layer added, ready for mulch for winter protection

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A Rose By Any Other Name…

The Desert Shall Bloom Like the Rose" Entryway to the Walk of Roses | Summerific® 'Perfect Storm' - Rose Mallow - Hibiscus hybrid - perennial by Proven Winners

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” ~ William Shakespeare

Fun is one of the most mysterious words in the English language. Catch it, contain it, bottle it and sell it if you can. Define it if you dare. Each person has a different idea of fun. Fun comes when you least expect it so be on the look out or you may miss it. Seldom have I found ‘fun’ when it was planned and most expected, and often I’ve found it when it was least expected.

The Desert Shall Bloom Like the Rose" Entryway to the Walk of Roses | Summerific® 'Perfect Storm' - Rose Mallow - Hibiscus hybrid - perennial by Proven Winners
Number Of Seven | Summerific® ‘Perfect Storm’ – Rose Mallow – Hibiscus hybrid – perennial by Proven Winners

Such is the case when I discovered that a hibiscus is known by the name ‘rose mallow’. I planted this gentle tropical giant at the entry of the Rose Walk Way in the Rock Rose Garden. The shear audacity of a giant tropical ‘Rose Mallow’ planted in the middle of a country setting across from corn fields was fun and it tickles me pink. This is the essence of a juxtaposition.

Summerific® 'Perfect Storm' - Rose Mallow - Hibiscus hybrid - perennial by Proven Winners With Lion Garden Statues Smelling The Fragrance
Summerific® ‘Perfect Storm’ – Rose Mallow – Hibiscus hybrid – perennial by Proven Winners With Lion Garden Statues Smelling The Fragrance

The Hibiscus ‘Rose Mallow’

Native to China, the hibiscus is confused often times with many plants; from the ‘Rose of Sharon’ to Hollyhocks it has been cultivated in the United States and Japan for thousands of years.

Summerific® 'Cranberry Crush' Rose Mallow Hibiscus hybrid
Summerific® ‘Cranberry Crush’ Rose Mallow Hibiscus hybrid

It’s the genus of over 200 plants! It comes in large rose, yellow, purple, pink and white flowers. Most varieties have large flowers from 6-12 inches blooming in late summer.

‘Rose of Sharon’ | ‘And The Desert Shall Bloom Like A Rose’~ Isaiah 35:1

'Rose of Sharon' | The Flower of The Field | "The desert shall bloom like the rose" Isaiah 35:1
‘Rose of Sharon’ | The Flower of The Field | “The desert shall bloom like the rose” Isaiah 35:1

 The phrase ‘Rose of Sharon’ that folks confuse the hibiscus rose mallow with appears in English in 1611 as “the flower of the field” in the King James Bible. The speaker (beloved) says, in the song of Solomon 2:1 “I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley”. The previous translations had referred to it simply as ‘Flower of the Field”.

'Rose of Sharon' | The Flower of The Field | "The desert shall bloom like the rose" Isaiah 35:1
‘Rose of Sharon’ | The Flower of The Field | “The desert shall bloom like the rose” Isaiah 35:1

Bible scholars think it’s a catch phrase that could be a mistranslation referring to:

  • Crocus A kind of crocus growing as a lily on the coastal plain of Sharon
  • Tulip – Bright red tulip prolific on the Hills of Sharon
  • Madonna Lily, commonly know as the ‘Lily of the Valley’ mentioned in Song of Solomon 2:1
  • Narcissus, Rose

    'Uncle Joe' in the Rock Rose Garden | "Summerific® Perfect Storm Rose Mallow hybrid Hibiscus "
    ‘Uncle Joe’ in the Rock Rose Garden | “Summerific® Perfect Storm Rose Mallow hybrid Hibiscus “

Only one of the species is a member of Rosaceae, (the rose family). ‘Rose of Sharon’ lack of precise meaning therefore is used often in song and verse. Though the identity of the flower still remains unclear its that very lack of precision that makes it a useful catch phrase. The species it refers to in modern usage is a member of Rosaceae. And the Hebrew word translation reads “And the desert shall bloom like a rose.” RoseofSharon1

Most interesting is a translation committee from ‘Song of Solomon’ 2:1 thinks “Rose of Sharon” is a mistranslation of Hebrew word for crocus. And etymologists’ tentatively have linked the word for beṣel, meaning bulb and understood as meaning either pungent or splendid.

National Flower of S. Korea ‘The Rose of Sharon’ Mugungwa

‘Rose of Sharon’ is the National Flower of S. Korea. Its pronounced (moogooonwa).  It was first used by the actual term mugunghwa and was first employed during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).

“The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.” ~Isaiah 35:1 KJV

For more information about roses visit The American Rose Society Web site.

'Litchfield Angel' Bathed in Sun Light by David Austin Roses
‘Litchfield Angel’ Bathed in Sun Light by David Austin Roses

The Cat’s “Out Of The Bag”

Raccoon Statue Next To Plants Ripped Up By A Raccoon
Raccoon Statue Next To Plants Ripped Up By A Raccoon
Raccoon Statue Next To Plants Ripped Up By A Raccoon

The definition of irony: a raccoon ripping up your plants next to a cute raccoon statue, after you caught the last one and released him.

Here’s the story. We caught the last little varmint. His brother or sister are back. Instead of borrowing the neighbor’s animal trap we went to Rural King and bought our own safe “catch & release’ trap.

Rosy Raccoon Peaking Out From Captivity
Rosy Raccoon Peaking Out From Captivity

Big Daddy said buy sardines for the trap. How was I to know the fine print said gourmet sardines in hot mustard? Anyway at 6:00 AM this morning I went out and something was in the cage having a fit.

Catching a Little Raccoon
Catching a Little Raccoon

‘Big Daddy had slipped the cage inside of a lawn & leaf bag and all I could see were angry eyes. So I ran in to get Mr. Fox and said “Get-Up, Get-Up! You got him and he’s spitting mad.

The Rascally Raccoon's Favorite Entryway To The Rose Garden
The Rascally Raccoon’s Favorite Entryway To The Rose Garden

So after he backed up the truck to drive him to the edge of our woods and we got our cup of coffee and a fishing pole we took the cage out of the bag opened the cage only to discover we had bagged the neighbor’s Tom cat!

The cat's out of the bag!
The cat’s out of the bag!

And Big Daddy said he didn’t even get a meal out of the deal because he refused to eat Gourmet Sardines in Hot Mustard! So The Cat’s Out Of The Bag! We bagged the neighbor’s Tom Cat!

Bunny's That Don't Eat Roses By 'Stormy Weather'
Bunny’s That Don’t Eat Roses By ‘Stormy Weather’

Roses Inny Or Outy?

Corona Tools Needle Nose Pruners

Corona Tools Needle Nose Pruners

Do roses have an inny or an outy?

Yes they do. They have 3-5-7 leaf outward and inward growing leaflets. The question I am asked more than any other question about roses is:

“What’s an outward facing leaflet look like?”

Why is it important to make a cut farther down on your rose cane when pruning or cutting spent blooms?

Because rose blooms are heavy, so it’s important that they grow on canes that can support their weight.

Look closely above the outward growing five leaf leaflet, your next new rose when it begins to grow will grow outward from the center of the bush starting at the bud eye, the area on the stem where branching occurs, just below where you made your cut. If you make your cut from an inward growing 5-7 leaf leaflet then your next rose will grow inward, crisscrossing your rose bush.

Think of your rose bush as you look at it as a vase and shape it that way. Your rose should be shaped like a beautiful vase. Generally, five-leaflet leaves occur at a point on the cane that is sturdy enough to support a new bloom. Ideally, each time you cut a rose from the bush, you leave behind a perfect location for the next rose to bloom.

Who would have thought that roses have innies and outies. Stick to pruning to the outies and you’ll have a beautifully shaped plant.