Rose bushes are a beautiful addition to almost any home. Although many people are intimidated by the care of these thorny plants, they actually require very little maintenance. The most important thing you can do to encourage healthy rose bushes bursting with velvety blooms is to prune your bush properly and at the correct time.

When to Prune

Experts say that the best time to prune a rose bush is early spring or late winter. This is a broad amount of time, so instead of looking at the calendar, look at the bush. A rose is ready for annual pruning when it is beginning to produce new growth in the form of little red buds.

Protect Yourself

Before you begin pruning, protect yourself from the sharp thorns that the rose is known for. Wear heavy garden gloves and a long sleeved shirt. It’s best if your shirt is old because it will likely get snagged and even torn from close contact with the rose bush.

Cut to Encourage Growth

Before beginning the pruning process, it is important to know what cuts are the most effective in encouraging new growth. The best approach is to make a cut at a 45 degree angle (halfway between horizontal and vertical). The best place to cut is around ¼ inch above a bud that is facing the outside of the plant.

Remove Dead Wood

The most important part of pruning is the removal of all dead wood. This is because fresh branches and flowers only grow from live ends. Also, dead wood is more likely to attract diseases and pests. It will be easy to detect dead wood because it is black or very dark in color rather than green. When you are finished pruning, there should be no dead wood at all.

Thin Branches to Prevent Disease

Next, remove any branches that are touching or rubbing against each other. These leave your plant vulnerable to diseases and parasites. This also will make it easier for air to circulate around your plant, allowing maximum growth and health. If any branches look damaged or less than perfect, remove them as well. Last, select the three to six healthiest branches, called “canes”. These are ideally as thick as a human finger and spread evenly around the base of the bush. Remove all other branches and cut the canes you are keeping back to one to three feet tall. Although many people are afraid to “over-prune”, this is highly unlikely with rose bushes.

Finish the Job

Although many products claim to promote growth, there is no need to put any type of paint or treatment on the cut ends. They will grow beautifully without any other intervention. However, it’s important to remove your dead branches and trimming, then carefully wipe down your shears and other equipment with rubbing alcohol. These two steps may seem unimportant, but they will be instrumental in preventing disease and cross-contamination.

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References:

Rose Gardening Made Easy: Pruning Rose Bushes

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