Spring is here! If you live in the Spokane, WA area . . . When the forsythia blooms. it’s time to prune!
Our annual pruning demonstration will take place Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 11 am at Northland Rosarium. If you are unable to make it, or you just want a review, here are a few basic pruning tips to keep in mind.
Use good quality, sharp, pruning shears of the scissors/by-pass type, rather than the anvil type. The Felco F-5 Classic Manual Pruning Shears made in Switzerland or the Corona 1-Inch Capacity Bypass Pruner made in California are both good quality products that will prune, not mangle, your rose bushes. Felco even makes pruning shears for smaller hands and for lefties.
For large, tough canes use a pruning saw, such as the Corona 13-Inch Razor Tooth Curved Pruning Saw, or the Felco Classic Folding Saw. If you would like some extra umph to assist with the pruning, especially if you have a large number of large rose bushes, a cordless power pruning saw, such as the Black & Decker Cordless Outdoor Pruning Saw would be a big help.
Invest in a pair of good, sturdy, protective gloves. You may not be able to avoid all of the prickles and thorns, but a really good pair of gloves will certainly help and should last more than one year. Something like the Magid Professional Rose Gardening Glove, or the Angela’s Garden Gauntlet Leather Glove especially for women, may help you to resist scratches while pruning and protect you from contact with soil.
Gloves really are not a luxury; one of the major dangers of gardening is the risk of tetanus. Anyone who experiences frequent skin breaks and is in contact with soil is at risk of contracting deadly tetanus. (Gee, does that sound like you?) Good gardening/pruning gloves cannot remove all risk of tetanus, but they may reduce your risk of exposure. Of course, there is no substitute for an up-to-date tetanus inoculation. Don’t expect your gloves to prevent all injuries; no glove is thorn proof, only thorn resistant.
Make all pruning cuts at a 45 degree angle in such a way that any new growth will be directed towards the outside of the bush and away from the center.
Prune so that you open up the center of the bush for good air circulation. This will assist the rose bush in resisting diseases such as powdery mildew.
Prune down to healthy tissue. On healthy cane tissue the outside of the cane should be green all the way around and the inside core should show white pith.
Remove puny, weak, twiggy growth. If it cannot support a bloom, it doesn’t do any good.
When you are all done pruning, clean up the dead leaves and pruned canes. This does NOT make good mulch, but it can harbor disease, mildew, unwanted pest eggs, etc.
Don’t panic! If you think you have made a mistake, just wait; the rose will grow back.
Browse through these Rose Pruning Videos to see a demonstration of rose pruning: