February 14th… The day to celebrate love… The day of giving and receiving bouquets, candies, teddy bears, etc. But here at the Atlanta Botanical Garden we focus on rose pruning.
When you go online and look for information regarding how to prune roses, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of information you find. It is important to remember that a rose is a plant. Treat it like one. Prune it like one.
When pruning a rose in February, your main goal is to rejuvenate it and to make sure it maintains a “V” shape. Start by identifying what kind of rose you have. Is it more of a shrub? A vine? A species rose? A once bloomer? At ABG, we reserve the pruning of vine, once bloomers, and species roses for a later date.
Once you have identified what kind of rose you have, you can begin by cutting out all of the dead branches (they will appear grey-brown in color and have no new buds forming at the nodes), cut out any damaged/broken, diseased canes or canes that have been a target to cane borers, and remove any branches that are crossing and touching.
Look carefully for holes in the canes of your roses. These holes are caused from a pest called cane borers. Cut the cane back to an outward facing node until there is no more evidence of a cane borer hole. Always remember to sterilize your pruners afterwards!!!
After you have removed the dead, diseased, damaged and crossing branches you can work on thinning out the rose. Remove any scrawny canes as they will not perform well. This will help the plant focus more energy on growing new healthy canes. Most roses respond well to a hard cut back. We like to cut ours back to about 1-2 feet depending on the specimen.
Here is a before and after
In summary, remember to ALWAYS sterilize your pruners before moving on to a new plant. Sanitation is key! Cut back to an outward facing bud to ensure the new growth grows outward and not inward. Roses are pretty resilient and you are not going to kill it by pruning it. Take your time and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Need more visual instructions? Click Here