There are two main reasons we prune our roses.
- The first is to rejuvenate your plant. This involves discarding as many old stems as possible and leaving young stems. The young stems will generate lush new growth, which in turn will produce plentiful quality blooms.
- Secondly, pruning ventilates the bush, allowing more light and air around the branches.
Before starting to prune, remember every plant is an individual and is pruned to what stems are available. Always sharpen equipment before starting each year because sharp tools make sharp cuts. Blunt tools crush and this allows disease to make its way into the stem.
Step 1 – Look and roughly decide which stems you want to keep.
Step 2 – Cut out dead wood at its point of origin and remove all short, spindely and broken stems.
Step 3 – Remove at the origin all branches that cross through the centre of the plant, remembering not to touch the branches you have chosen to keep. Your rose should be starting to resemble a bowl.
Step 4 – Now remove all stems at the point of origin other then the 3 – 4 stems you have chosen to leave. Remember to eliminate as much old wood as possible and keeping as much new stems as possible.
Step 5 – Shorten chosen stems to 12” to 18” from origin looking for an eye or node facing outwards, cutting about ¼” above the eye on an angle. (Another theory involves cutting 2/3 of the stem, leaving a 1/3 because if they are above the eaves of the house the stems are too long and if the rose is short it is no good pruning it 3” to 4”.)
Step 6 – Remove any leaves that are still attached, rake surface rubbish up and dispose, giving the ground a chance to aerate. Dampness encourages disease.
Step 7 – Spray all bushes and ground with Mancozeb or Lime Sulphur to discourage fungal diseases. These products work on bare hard wood and the ground and the procedure should be repeated fortnightly in winter.
Step 8 – Start feeding at the end of August or beginning of September with animal manure, preferably chicken (if in coastal or lime stone areas, use cow or sheep manure). Then follow up with Nitrophoska fertiliser once monthly through till May. Nitrophoska has a higher Potassium content then NPK and contains iron and trace elements, making it a better mix for all flowering and fruiting plants. You stop feeding in May prior to pruning so the sap slows down.