Pruning is the science of removing growth to achieve one or more goals: keeping the plant healthy, making it more productive, controlling its size, or encouraging it to grow in a particular shape or direction. Pruning stimulates new growth, an important factor in flowering because many varieties of roses produce flowers only on new canes.
All hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, and miniatures require heavy annual pruning to keep them in top shape. Prune when the growth buds begin to swell, but before they actually start to leaf out. Because these roses only bloom from new wood, pruning is essential to stimulate a crop of new canes from which flowers can arise.
Climbers may need heavy pruning or only a light shaping, depending on the time of year and other circumstances. Climbers bloom on old wood. They should therefore not be pruned until after their first flush of bloom, or wood that will produce flower buds will be cut away. Many shrub and old garden roses need only the annual light pruning you would give to other woody plants in the garden.
Pruning Tools: The best all-around shears for removing rose stems, flowers, and leaves are curved bypass shears. They are hook and blade, with two opposing curved blades.
Lopping shears easily cut out thick canes and are used to prune large old garden roses, shrubs, and climbers. If canes are too thick to cut with lopping shears, use a large-toothed pruning saw.
When pruning roses, wear sturdy leather gloves, such as gauntlet gloves, to protect against thorns.
Pruning Basics: The first step in pruning any type of rose is to remove any dead, damaged, diseased or weak and thin canes, cutting them off flush with the bud union. Next, remove canes that are growing in to the center of the plant or those that cross each other. Canes that grow inward keep light and air from the center of the plant and will eventually cross, chafing one another. These abrasions can become entry points for insects and diseases. It is important to keep the center of the plant open to let in sunshine and allow air to circulate freely. Always prune to an outward facing bud so that canes do not grow into the center of the plant.
Prune close enough to the bud that no stub remains to die off and harbor insects or diseases, but far enough away that the bud will not die. A good distance is about 1/4 inch above the growth bud. Equally important, cut at the proper angle so that water runoff won’t drip on the bud or collect in the cut and retard healing. The ideal angle is 45 degrees, slanted parallel to the direction of bud growth.
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