How to Trim Roses the Best Way
How to Take Care of Roses on a Yearly Base
When you don't take care of your roses, they will grow wildly and sometimes as wild as impenetrable 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.
Not All Rose Bushes Are Healthy Rose Bushes
How to Choose a Healthy Rose?
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 there 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.
Does a Rose Need to Be Pruned Each Year?
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 rosary 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 branch short in wintertime, before the frost has gone, big chance that branch 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 because different types of roses need different ways to trim or prune them.
You'll Need a Pruning Shear
What Kind of Trimming Shear Can I Use Best?
I have (had) a lot of roses in my garden and it almost became a burden to trim and prune them each year, 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. Many times I had to squeeze hard which caused muscle strain in my hands.
Pruning my roses and other bushes became a really easy and joyful job when I found the 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 Shears
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 branch 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 therefore I recommend it strongly. It will make your pruning time even a more fun time.
If You Have the Space Then Let Your Roses Grow
You'll Need Garden Gloves
Different Gloves for Different Garden Jobs
Most of the time I like garden gloves that let me feel 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. are certainly suitable for working with roses. I use them all the time. Atlas Gloves
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 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 the Best Way to Remove the Deadhead 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 branch.
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.
Rosa Gallica Complicata
The Rose 'Rosa Gallica Complicata' is one of the most beautiful single petal roses I know. It's an old rose and its origin is unknown, but surely before the 19th century. This rose is a Gallica hybrid with a lot of fragrance, blooming for about 6 weeks in early Summer. It can grow into a rather big bush which you can just cut back when it's getting too large. The Complicata is a very strong rose.
Rosa Dainty Bess
The rose Rosa Dainty Bess is a beautiful Hybrid Tea rose blooms in clusters (up to 7) of soft pink colored single petal flowers. Bred by Archer and introduced in 1925. It's a lovely rose bush that feels at her place in the front of the border.
Rosa Souvenir de Saint Anne
The rose Rosa Souvenir de Saint Anne is a repeat-flowering rose with a strong fragance and lovely blush pink flowers. It's a recurrent and vigorous David Austin rose. She doesn't need much trimming.
The Rose Rosa Albertine is a vigorous growing rambler rose with the most beautiful half open copper-pink flowers of which the buds start in a rather reddish salmon color. Make sure this rose gets the room to grow because she can climb as high as 15 feet. Very suitable for covering walls, fences or other structures. She's a joy to look at but needs trimming each year or she will grow very wild.
Rosa F.J. Grootendorst
The Rosa Rugose Hybrid F.J. Grootendorst is a beautiful park rose. Introduced in 1918. Blooming from June to October. Growing in beautiful shrubs, height about 1,5 - 2 meters. They don't need much trimming.
Roses Won't Last Forever
Back in 2011 we had a strange winter in the Netherlands. It stayed too warm until half of January which caused the roses to sprout too early in the season. Then in one night the temperature dropped from +7 to -18C and that was the deathblow to many of my beautiful roses.
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 it's a sad case.
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
© 2013 Titia Geertman