Trimming your rose bushes may seem like a daunting task, but there are a few basic things to keep in mind which will help you provide this beneficial service to your roses. Trimming, also known as pruning, your rose bushes should be a yearly practice, promoting the strong and vibrant growth of your rose bush.
You may ask yourself, “Well, why should I prune?” Similarly to cutting our own hair, the act encourages new growth while removing dead and decaying elements. Pruning helps to improve the aesthetic of the plant, and also allow more light to reach into the plants core, which facilitates nourishing its new growth areas. Pruning is very much a mantra of, “Out with the old, and in with the new.”
Pruning shears, long handle loppers, a small curved saw, thick gloves, and a long sleeved shirt are the basic tools required for this job. Clean and sharp tools are imperative to the health and success of your plants. All cutting, snipping, and sawing should be exact and clean—if you are unable to cleanly remove a segment from the plant, look into having your tools sharpened so that you do not risk mangling, crushing, or stripping limbs of the plant.
In order to facilitate light and air circulation in and around the plant, prune with the intent of opening up the center of the rose bush. Cut stems ¼ to a ½ inch above a bud which is facing outward—this will help to promote outward growth in the bush, which contributes to the overall fullness in its appearance. Cut at a nice clean and crisp 45-degree angle. Work hard to remove all broken, diseased or dead wood sections from the bush. Branches that look shriveled, dry, or black should be removed. You are attempting to channel the roses energy into the buds and branches you select. The center of a trimmed branch, limb, or stock should be crisp and white.
Probably the biggest question about pruning, is exactly when to do so? The right time to prune is predicated upon the type and species of the rose bush and its geographical environment. Check the exact varietals you are working with, to get specific information for your roses. However, typically pruning takes place in the spring. The swelling of the rose buds can be a solid indicator of when to prune. Roses should be pruned right around the start of their growth in March or early April.
Roses such as climbers and ramblers actually grow out of old growth, and pruning back wooded section of the plant will prevent new growth from happening. Ramblers bloom only once during summer, where as climbers bloom continuously. With regards to the latter, the process known as dead heading, the removal of old wilted buds, will allow for continued growth and production throughout the plants flowering season.
Remember, there is very little chance of you harming your rose bushes by improperly pruning them. The benefits of trimming back your roses far outweigh the risks.