* Do Roses Need Trimming?
Caring for Roses involves trimming or pruning on a yearly base
When you don't take care of your roses, they will grow wildly and sometimes as wild as inpenetrable bushes. Roses need to be trimmed and/or pruned. The best time for trimming roses is the Spring. You have to wait though until the threat of night frost has gone. A lot has been written about trimming roses and even so many different opinions about what the best time for trimming your roses is have been voiced.
In this article I'll tell you something about what the books tell you and what I do when I trim my roses. I've learned a lot from an owner of a beautiful private rose garden and I've practiced his way of trimming roses ever since.
Abraham Darby Rose
How to choose a healthy rose
Not every rose bush is a healthy rose bush
It's very easy and tempting to choose a rose bush out of a catalog and order it online and then get it send to your house. I never buy a rose bush that I haven't seen and picked out myself. It is so important that the rose you want to buy is a healthy plant with at least 3 to 5 equally strong stems which are divided up proportionally. A rose with only one stem or two stems will never grow out to a beautiful bush.
- I prefer buying a rose which has been grown in a container. It will be much healthier and much easier to plant, because its hair roots will not damaged when you plant it. You can plant container roses throughout the year. Don't forget to water it often the first week, depending on the temperature. Watch out for rule nr. 3 though.
- First of all you should do some research on forehand, either in books or on the internet to find out what kind of rose you want to buy.
- A healthy rose plant should at least contain 3 to 5 healthy looking stems which has to be spread out widely and the size of the plant should not be taller than 1,5 to 2 times the height of the container. It it's a large rose in a small container it sure has been in there too long and the chance is that its roots have bonded with the container so they will be damaged when you take it out.
- Don't buy a rose that has only one or two basic stem(s), it will never grow into a nice shape. Or if you're more experienced, you can cut it back to at least 15 to 20 cm so it might grow a new stem. Sometimes it will, sometimes it won't.
- The leaves should look healthy and green without any brown blotches, which would point to the disease black spot. Some roses are really sensitive for black spot. There also should not be black or white flies in the foliage.
- I always buy roses that are still in their buds and their should be plenty, healthy looking buds on a rose. Depending of course again what kind of rose you want. There are roses with one flower per stem or multiple flowers grouped together.
Mme. Le Gras de St. Germain - a David Austin Rose
Pruning roses each year?
Different views about how and when to prune roses
The overall meaning of pruning a rose is that you cut off all stems quite short in order to stimulate the plant to grow new stems and to direct it into a direction you want it to grow. The most common given advice is that you have to trim the whole rose plant each year. Well, you can do that to some roses, but not all of them.
I once visited a beautiful private rose garden in The Netherlands. This couple had taken over the remaining roses of a rosery that had gone out of business. They were able to purchase about 2,5 acres (1ha.) land right behind their own garden and they turned that piece of bare land into the most awesome rose garden I've ever seen, containing 400 different rose plants, bushes, hedges. You name it, it was there. I would've given you a link, but it appears not to be online anymore. It was several years ago when I visited this garden.
I talked to the owner and asked him in what time of year he pruned his roses and he looked at me and said:
"I don't prune my roses, I just cut off branches where I don't want them. The way people are told to cut off their roses short each year might be right if you have a garden the size of a postage, but such a garden is hardly the right place to grow roses like they should grow. You know, by cutting off all the branches, they cut off most of the flowers each year and the plant has to work so hard to grow back again, it will wear itself out in a few years.
However when you have to cut back a rose, because it's growing out of proportion, the best time to do that is spring, when there's no chance on frost anymore. It doesn't matter if the rose is already sprouting. Cutting a branche short in wintertime, before the frost has gone, big chance that branche will freeze to death and will not flower at all anymore."
I went back home and thought about what he had told me and I couldn't but admit that this man was right.Cutting off too many big branches will result in less beautiful roses and will weaken the rose in the end. Nevertheless it doesn't mean you don't have to do anything at all.
You'll need a pruning shear
A good shear is a must if you have many roses
I have (had) a lot of roses in my garden and it almost became a burden, because the small shears were often too small and the normal loppers were often too big to cut that oversized twig in an easy way. I often had to squeeze hard which caused muscle strain in my hands.
With these ratcheting shears, pruning has become very easy, because it cuts through the thicker twigs in no time without having to use much strength, because it's cutting it in parts, one cut at the time. You have to get used to using this tool, it's not working like the ones you might be familiar with.
When you start cutting you'll notice it will only cut a small part. Then you have to open it a bit until you hear a 'click' (you can feel it too) , then squeeze again, open it till 'click' and squeeze again. These shears increase the cutting power up to 300 percent.
You don't have to open it all the way each time, just far enough till you hear (or feel) that one click and bit by bit it cuts through this thicker twig or branche without you having to put in too much power yourself.
Very easy, very enjoyable and a must have for every gardener. I really can speak from my own experience and therefor I recommend it strongly. It will make your pruning time even a more fun time.
The best Pruning Shear I've ever used
Pruning my roses and other bushes became a really easy and joyful job when I found the Master Craft 8-inch Ratcheting Pruning Shears in one of our local warehouses. Never again would I suffer from aching hand muscles after pruning the roses and bushes in our farmhouse garden.
Master Craft 8-inch Ratcheting Pruning Shear
Never ever trim or prune your roses when there's still chance of night frost
Expanding her territory
You'll need Garden Gloves
Different gloves for different garden jobs
Most of the time I like garden gloves that give me some feeling on what I'm doing.
However, when handling roses you really need some thicker gloves where the thorns won't hurt you the moment you touch them and the stems of some roses are just filled with thorns. Atlas Gloves are certainly suitable for working with roses.
How do you Trim Roses and when do you trim roses
Trimming a rose is like giving it a haircut once in a while. Well it depends on what kind of rose it is. I don't trim the rambler roses, unless they grow out of proportion. I found this very good article about rambler roses on internet in which you can read what exactly a rambler rose is and how to take care of it.
I trim my roses all summer long, for instance when a branche has bloomed out, I trim it back at least one third or even half, just above a healthy leave that points outwards. Make sure you cut it the right way, because then the rose will grow a new flower carying branche.
Don't be afraid to cut off a branche of a rose, as long as you don't cut off too many at the same time and don't cut them off too short.
What is deadheading roses?
Deadheading Roses means: you take out the dead flowers during the blooming time of the rose.
However...don't just take off the flower, because then it won't grow a new one.
Take off the flower a bit lower.
Look for the first or second healthy leave below the flower which is pointing outwards and cut it off just above that leave.
This will stimulate the rose to grow a new flower carrying branche.
Mind you, that will only succeed with roses that will flower all summer.
There are some old roses which will flower only once a year.
Walking through my garden,
I found these roses few,
I'll sit a while with you.
Dainty Bess is the name,
of this ever lovely rose.
Pinkshade petals fragile,
so for a while I froze.
Rose Dainty Bess
Souvenir of St. Anne,
your name suits you so well,
just because all summer long,
I'll recognize your smell.
Rose Souvenir de St. Anne
I hope you did enjoy
this little stroll with me.
Whenever I feel lost,
in this garden I will be.
More interesting videos from Ashdown Roses
- Grooming Roses During The Growing Season - YouTube
It's okay to groom roses all year long to keep them in shape. We show you how.
- Planting A Bareroot Rose - YouTube
In this video we show you how to plant a bareroot rose bush and answer the question should, or should you not, bury the bud union.
- Anatomy of A Rose - YouTube
What is a bud eye, a bud union a basil break? The various parts of a rose can be confusing when you are trying to learn about them. This video runs you throu...
- Planting A Grafted Container Rose - YouTube
Planting a rose is much easier than you think. This video shows you how to plant a grafted (sometimes called budded) that is currently growing in a pot. It a...
- The Difference Between Own Root and Grafted Roses - YouTube
Wondering what the difference is between own-root and grafted (or budded) roses? This videos illustrates that and discusses which might be better for your ga...
- Saving A Rose That Has Been Blown Over - YouTube
We've all had roses blown over the wind or knocked down by something. This video shows you how to straighten the rose out and save it
Odd shaped Roses
Some Roses have odd shapes
Sometimes I come across roses that don't look like the roses we know. Like this one and it bothers me that I can't tell you her name, because I forgot. I used to keep a detailed list of all the roses in my garden, but many, many years ago I had a computer crash and no backup. Since then I backup everything, sometimes twice.
It's a kind of park or landscape rose bush with a lot of pricking thorns. The color is so bright that when it blooms, you know it's summer.
Much has changed since I took this photo
Winter 2011 was a deadly winter for many of my roses
I've been growing roses for over 20 years I think. I'm not one of those 'neat' gardeners, I like to let nature take its course as long as she isn't bothering too much. Well she is every spring, when all the weeds are growing faster and higher than my plants, but that's my little war with nature and sometimes she wins, sometimes I win, depending on how much time I have or want to put in.
Anyway, we all know that Earth is warming up a bit and lately the winters in my part of the world (The Netherlands) are not what they used to be anymore. But....we managed and my garden managed. This particular winter of 2011 however, was a deadly one for a lot of garden plants, hedges and some trees too.
Temps were too high in December through January, well above 10C which caused the plants (and my roses) to think spring was there and a lot of them started to sprout. Then, halfway January, the temps dropped almost overnight to -18C and that was a disaster for the garden and in particular for a great deal of my roses. I might say that about 85% of all my roses 'died' above ground and some never recovered anymore.
It really was a catastrophe for a rose lover like me, I could just cry when spring came and my garden looked like a graveyard with blackened rose bushes everywhere, like they had been burned. All stems that were above ground were dead as dead can be or half dead.
As you've maybe read above or heard in one of the videos, that cutting off too many branches at once, could be deadly for the rose, well I didn't cut them off, but nature froze them to death, which has the same result. A lot of the roses fought to stay alive and produced new stems from their roots, but these were very weak stems which would break off easily in a bit of wind (as many did). A lot of roses had no power left to overcome this devastating pruning and also their tiny new sprouts died after a while.
What grieved me most is that my beautiful Mme Le Gras St. Germain who was living in the big Apple tree died too, leaving behind a big crown of black rose branches. It's growing again from the ground up, but it will take years and years before she will look beautiful again.
Strange enough some roses seemed to have had no stress at all, mostly the old fashioned single petal roses, but still.....if you once counted over 200 different roses in your garden and there are about a dozen left and another dozen is still fighting for their lives, I think it's a sad case. All I have left is sweet memories of my roses.
Mme. Le Gras de St. Germain - growing into an old apple tree
So now you know why it is important to photograph your garden
Memories will last forever
So now you know why it is so important to take pictures of your garden. Cherish them, because one day they might just be the only remembrance left of what once was your beautiful garden. I'll have to wait till spring to see which roses will survive or will be gone forever.
I couldn't get myself to take pictures, because I don't want to remember a garden full of black dead rose stems.
© 2013 Titia Geertman