Does the thought of pruning roses make your knees weak or palms sweaty? This topic seems to cause a lot of confusion, even among experienced gardeners, but it’s not really all that difficult! With the right tools and advice, we’ll help get your roses looking blooming beautiful!
Even if you did no pruning, roses would still survive - after all, roses never used to be pruned when they were growing in the wild!
July is the month when most roses are pruned. There are a few exceptions, including certain old fashioned roses, as well as banksia and many weeping standards, which should be pruned after they flower in spring.
For all other roses, now is the time to remove dead, old or diseased wood, shorten healthy branches to promote new growth and keep your roses a manageable size and shape.
So let’s get into it. Just like a good cook, before pruning it’s wise to gather ingredients and tools before you start.
1. Remove any weak, spindly, criss-crossing or dead stems at the base of the shoot/stem. If it’s an established bush, look critically at the stems and remove some of old, woody canes by sawing them cleanly off at the base.
2. Prune remaining canes back to one-third, cutting just above a bud on the outside of the stem, angling your cut so that it faces outwards. New growth will come from this bud, so it’s important that it heads in a good direction.
3. Look towards the bottom of the rose bush and remove any ‘suckers’ or shoots below the bud union.
4. Stand back and take a good look at the rose. Does the remaining wood seem healthy and vigorous? Is the centre of the bush nice and open so that the sun and air can get right into it? Complete any tidying up that’s necessary.
5. Remove any remaining foliage from stems and clean up fallen foliage around the bush and discard. Dilute Yates Lime Sulphur and spray the whole rose and soil beneath - this will help to remove any rose scale from the stems and also destroy fungal spores that are lingering in the soil.
6. Add a good layer of organic mulch, like pea straw or lucerne around the bush, taking care to avoid direct contact with the rose trunk.