Monday, December 12, 2011

How to Care for Roses: Annual Pruning - What to Look For

Let's go over the details of to prune your roses. (Click on any photo to expand to full size)

We are starting with this: a mass of healthy stock, dead stock, some roses, some dead heads, green leaves, dead leaves still on the plant, and some dead wood. The goal is to thin this out, removing all dead plantlife and even some of the living plant. It's time for the plant to rest so it can grow well next year.

Below are some things to look for. See the change in the texture and color of the stem? See the funny light spot? See the dark thin branch above my finger?

The thin branch is dead. The funny discolored bark is dead. And the death is creeping DOWN the plant, into the healthy, smooth bark (that is close to the roots). We're going to cut all of that off.

Yes, there is a green branch, obviously living, coming from the dying section. We're going to cut off, TOO. It's growing out of a dying section. Leaving it will only allow the death to creep more, killing more of the healthy stock.

(My right index finger is pointing at a potential new growth. We'll talk about that below.)

Roses die from the branches down, not the roots up. Keep that in mind when examining your plant.

Here are more examples of deadwood on roses:

When your eye becomes accustomed to what you looking for, you'll see it even easier. It will seemingly jump out at you!

Look at these...there it is...right in the middle. You can see how the plant has died on one side of the branch between the two thinner branches. That's the almost black coloring.

And down low, again in the middle. An example of creeping death (after a cutting) headed to the root:

Here's another example of plant death in the middle of the plant. This is also the sample plant we'll be pruning in this series. (The dark grey shape is part of the watering system.)

Creeping death can show up on a rose plant in a few ways. If there a tear in the plant (like a rose was broken or torn off), or damage to the branch, disease will likely enter. If you cut above the optimal place (we'll cover that below), the plant will kill the part above the optimal place (that's what you see in the picture directly above).

You can save the plant by trimming off the dead part(s). If you don't, the plant will die as the disease creeps down the plant and reaches the roots. It may take a year or so, but it will happen.

Give it a healthy prunning. It will grow back. Living plants do that!

(This is part of a series of posts on How to Care for Roses. Click on the label "Rose Care" to see all the posts.)

Sheryllyn McClintock

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