Hello and welcome to my first blog post! I am so excited to share my passion for roses and gardening. The goal of this blog is to be a continual source of rose growing information and inspiration. Your questions are important, so please let me know what you'd like to know about roses. I want this blog to be as comprehensive and inclusive as possible, so your collaboration and input are greatly appreciated. To submit a question, simply comment below and we'll be sure to answer. As you follow along, you will see that I'm a rather unconventional gardener who does what works for her through curiosity, trial and error. There is no right or wrong way to grow plants and I'm always looking for ways to make my roses happier. I'm looking forward to this new blogging journey and sincerely appreciate your support!
It's January in California and that means rose pruning time! To be honest, up until recently I've always dreaded pruning, not because of the work involved, but because it meant stripping my roses down to naked canes and the lack of beauty in my garden. It was only recently that I've learned to look at pruning as a period of rejuvenation - a new beginning for my plants. All of my mistakes from the previous season are wiped away, giving me a new palette to work from for the coming season. If we didn't prune our roses, we wouldn't have a magnificent spring flush with flawless foliage and fluffy blooms, so a little work is worth it. We all need rest in order to refresh, and our roses are no exception! When choosing an image to accompany this post, I thought these fluffy Evelyn roses were the ideal choice since they are that perfect "great reward" from the work of pruning!
Here at our rose farm, pruning is just part of our rose care routine during the dormant season and over the coming weeks I'll share what we do to prepare our roses for spring. So why do we prune our roses? The goal of rose pruning is to remove all dead, unproductive and diseased wood on the rose so the plant will push new growth to the healthiest canes. Each year when we prune our roses we're given an opportunity to bring vigor and beauty to the plant. To get the job done, you need just a few tools:
In addition to the items above, you should have a trash can, rake and whatever gardening tool you prefer to pull weeds around the base of your roses.
I'm going to preface this tutorial by saying "it's really hard (or impossible) to kill a rose by pruning." Last winter when we were preparing to transplant 5,000 roses to our new farm we literally took a chainsaw to our roses. Yes, a chainsaw! Granted, we were moving and had to very quickly cut them down in order to transport them (hence the chainsaw) and we gave them a proper pruning once they were in their new home, but even if we hadn't pruned them, they would have been just fine. Please do not take a chainsaw to your roses, however us doing so proves it's really hard to kill roses. People tell me time and again how afraid they are to prune their roses. In reality, there is no right or wrong way to prune and how much one removes from their plants is up to them. I've seen people cut their roses back to 6" from the ground and others leave 3' canes. Some gardeners leave three canes, some leave nine. The most important thing to consider when pruning is this: leave as much wood on the plant as you wish, so long as it is healthy. This means if a part of your rose looks diseased, unproductive, damaged, spindly or otherwise questionable, remove it. Leave only the best looking canes (wood) on your roses so the plant sends all it's stored energy to healthy canes and buds once it wakes from dormancy. Here are some tips:
When to prune roses? Pruning should be done in January/February in warmer climates (zones 8-10) and early spring or after the last frost in colder climates (zones 5-7). If you live in a cold climate pruning roses is simple: just cut back the canes that were killed in winter.
This video shows how we prune our roses at the farm - all 15,000 of them! For those wondering, it takes six people about a month to prune our roses, including pulling all the weeds and raking up what seems like an endless amount of debris. It's a job I'm so thankful to have willing and able hands to do the majority of the work. As you begin pruning, remember it may take you several years to get a nice shape from your roses and there is no right or wrong way to prune. You will not kill your roses by pruning them, in fact, they will come back healthier than ever with a good chop (sounds like hair, right? This is coming from the girl who won't cut her hair, ha!). Be artistic in how you shape your plants and enjoy the process - your roses will thank you for it!
My next blogs will be on planting bare root roses, frost protection, mulching and spring feeding. What else do you want to see covered here? xo