This month we ask Philip: What would be your general advice when pruning rose bushes?
Never be afraid, you won’t ruin the plant. Be bold, brave and confident. Many of the newer varieties make some of the old pruning rules obsolete.
Modern garden roses are bred to be productive, making many stems and therefore flowers. In the olden days when growth was less vigorous you were advised to ‘prune to an outward facing eye’, as that one eye would grow and dominate. Modern bushes will produce multiple stems, so this rule old requirement is pretty much redundant now.
I would offer the following directions to a pruning novice, who will become an expert by following them.
- Start by Remove any Dead Diseased or Damaged growth
- Thin out the centre of the plant
- Cut the remaining stems back by about two thirds. Half is fine, more than two thirds is fine. Just leave a shape you like.
- Move on to the next one.
Climbers need to be trained and pruned. Try to tie the stems more horizontally than vertically. A horizontal stem will generate lots on lateral flowering shoots along its length. Training and pruning climbers in late September to November is good, you will be amazed how much you can bend the stems without breaking them. If the snap, fear not, make a clean cut and it will grow again next Summer.
Ramblers and shrub do have different requirements, especially those that do not repeat flower (only have one big intense period of bloom for 6 to 8 weeks), as most of the non repeating roses flower on old wood, so if you cut that out there are no flowers the following summer.
The other shrub roses can be treated like bush roses, but don’t cut so hard. You can even just tidy up for a year or two and give a harder prune every second or third year, if you prefer a big bushy natural look to them.
Excellent advice as usual from Philip, our expert rose breeder. Keep your eye out for next months blog.