Friday, January 01, 2010

New Year's Day Rose Pruning

This is considered the "wrong time" to prune roses. However, I see it done now, and earlier, around my neighborhood and their's do fine. The theory is that early pruning stimulates early, frost sensitive growth. That tender growth uses the plant's stored sugars, and when the new grow freezes and dies, there's nothing left for replacement growth.

Maybe my neighbors created a Darwinian evolution, with the easily killed varieties now dead, and the varieties that tolerate midwinter pruning thriving. Whatever the case, waiting longer means more work in the Spring, so I also pruned one of our two rose beds. Most of these are David Austin, own-root varieties. A few are rustled (home cuttings from a bouquet or rogue bush in the treeway), also own-root. A couple are grafted tea or florabundas.

Difficult to see them in the jumble. Heights from 3 to 6 feet tall.

Some modern authors recommend just cutting back a little, with shears, and not being too specific with what is cut. I suspect they haven't tried this method organically. I try to remove all dead and diseased canes, and all crossing or misdirected canes, and generally thin a little. I also cut them back more. My theory is that I'm removing more disease potential, and since I grow organically I don't use any toxic sprays. There may be fewer or less humongous blossoms, but there are plenty and I like them as they are.

After, most are now 1 foot tall. A few grocery-store miniatures, that I felt sorry for and planted about 5 years ago, I pruned almost to the ground. Tamora, a rank-growing David Austin variety, I basically pruned to 2 feet and didn't thin much. Too difficult now and I was wearing out. Scepter'ed Isle, another own-root David Austin variety, had grown to 6 ft tall. I pruned it back to about 2 feet, it was just way too tall.

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