Knockout Roses are a beautiful addition to any garden space. This shrub rose is hardy in almost all American climates and is practically self-maintaining. For gardeners who are unfamiliar with the proper pruning procedure, a pruning mistake is usually not a problem with Knockout Roses. A Knockout Rose bush will almost certainly recover from even the worst pruning job, but following these simple steps will ensure that your roses are healthy, productive, and gorgeous.

Reasons For Pruning:

To understand the best way to prune any flowering shrub, one must first understand the purposes of pruning. Shrubs produce flowers to encourage their own survival. As animals have a burning desire to procreate with one another, a shrub’s flowers are its efforts to create offspring of its own. Keeping a shrub well tended and pruned will encourage it to produce a hefty crop of flowers, as the bush will be able to dedicate more of its stored energy to reproduction rather than stem and leaf maintenance. Pruning a shrub also promotes good air circulation: a necessity for all plant life. Finally, pruning is aesthetically pleasing as it removes ugly, dead wood and provides a gardener with the opportunity to shape the shrub as he or she desires.

The Early Years:

Like most shrubs, Knockout Roses should not be pruned for the first two years. This provides the plant with ample time to establish a healthy root system and also gives the shrub time to grow into maturity, taking the shape it has been bred to take. After two years, Knockout Roses should be between two and four feet high and around two to three feet in diameter. This is a healthy size for most Knockout Rose bushes. When this size has been achieved, careful and methodical pruning may be attempted.

Pruning Tools:

When pruning any plant, the tools used are especially significant. Pruning tools should be clean, dry and very sharp. A dull pruning tool will result in a ragged, unhealthy cut. Also, be sure to wash pruning tools carefully between pruning jobs. A mild solution of dish detergent and water will clean away any lingering diseases that may be spread from plant to plant. Tools must be rinsed well and dried before pruning again.

General Pruning Tips:

There are three goals to consider when beginning a pruning job. First, attempt to open the center of the plant up to promote access to light and good air circulation. Select canes toward the center of the plant to prune. Find a bud on the cane that is facing toward the outer permiter of the plant and cut the cane right above this bud. Always cut canes at a 45 degree angle, and cut smoothly and briskly. Do not leave a ragged edge. Prune about one third of the shrub’s growth. Second, eliminate the oldest canes first. Cutting away old Knockout Rose canes will direct absorbed nutrients to newer, healthier canes. These canes will produce the brightest and most beautiful flowers. Finally, always examine your shrub carefully for canes that show evidence of disease. A cane that is black in color or excessively dry may be diseased. Remove this cane from your shrub to prevent the spread of disease.

When To Prune:

Knockout Roses should be pruned in the dormant season. For most climate zones, the best time to prune is late winter. Many experienced gardeners claim that the best time to prune Knockout Roses is immediately after the first chartreuse Forsythia blooms appear. This plant is one of the earliest Spring bloomers and is a dependable indicator of the approach of Spring.

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