Every Bloomin' Thing: Start pruning roses soon after Christmas
In the rush of the Christmas season, it is a good reminder that we need to start pruning our roses shortly after Christmas.
Rule No. 1: Get your roses pruned by Super Bowl Sunday for a lovely mid-April, early-May bloom. If the weather is cooler, your main flush of bloom could be mid-May; any later, you'll run into hot weather and won't get the blooms you want. Pruning three or four weeks before Super Bowl Sunday is okay too.
Rule No. 2: During the pruning process cut out all deadwood — Test: Clip off a bit; if it is brown, brittle and dry, it is dead. Then cut out all crossing branches — Test: Imagine the branches three feet longer and half-inch bigger around. Are any of the branches going to be rubbing against each other? If so, cut out the minor ones. Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras, and Floribunda can stand hard pruning down one-third to one-half, leaving three to five main canes. Prune miniatures to fit the container or area in which you have them planted; large and small Shrub Roses need to be kept in their boundaries — prune long canes as needed. Do the same with large-flowered climbers. Some of the new modern Shrub Roses need no pruning except for dead canes.
Rule No. 3: Clean up around your roses after pruning as this helps eliminate disease. If your rose leaves have any black spot or rust, get the leaves off the bush and burned or in the trash. Do not recycle the leaves in your compost pile as that can cause such diseases to spread.
Rule No. 4: Apply or reapply mulch to conserve on water; in our climate, roses must receive plenty of water. There are many types of mulch. I recommend something that will decompose in a couple of years as it helps improve your soil.
Rule No. 5: Feed your roses after you prune. Organic is best for improving the soil, however it is generally more costly than chemical fertilizers and the roses don't care. Feed your roses monthly February through June; slack off during the hot summer and resume with a final feeding in October.
Kathy Bramhall is a member of the Red Bluff Garden Club, which is affiliated with Cascade District Garden Club, California Garden Club, Pacific Region Garden Club and National Garden Clubs Inc.