Pruning worries many gardeners but if you keep the rules simple it is quite a logical procedure.
In all pruning, dead and diseased wood should always be removed. If taking away an entire branch, try to leave as little of it behind as possible to avoid dead stumpy areas on the plant. All other cuts should be made above an outward-facing bud and on an angle away from it, thus preventing rain-water from sitting there. Remove wood, which has rubbed against other branches, and become damaged. Try to keep the centre of the plant open. Always use good quality, sharp secateurs to ensure that cuts are clean. Both the Expert Bypass Pruner and the Professional Pruner by Darlac are highly recommended, as they offer excellent quality at an affordable price.
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Probably most of the pruning will be confined to removing tangled growth and tidying. Different cultivars have different growth habits, but if the plant produces long arching branches, they can be pegged down if necessary.
Generally, procumbents are not the easiest to prune because of their very dense growth habit, with masses of twiggy branches, it is difficult to see where to start. Some careful attention may be needed in certain areas especially if there is much die-back but after that I would be inclined to use a pair of shears or a hedge trimmer. The disadvantage of using such devices is that there may be some breakage to the twigs that will inevitably cause some die back. However, these roses are usually vigorous enough that they will quickly cover this with fresh growth from below. Very often these roses require little pruning at all unless of course they have strayed too far into areas they should not be inhabiting.
Standard roses are simply cultivars that have been budded to a stem. Therefore you will need to know what group that cultivar falls into. Weeping standards are generally ramblers or procumbent roses, in which case pruning is applied to old wood shortly after flowering. Those standards that are more formal are usually Modern Roses in which case a hard prune in spring is recommended. Shrub standards, such as ‘Ballerina’ and ‘Bonica’ are best if given a tidy up in spring.
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Unless a rose produces hips it will require dead-heading for a couple of reasons. Firstly a dead flower head is unsightly but, more importantly, the removal of the spent flowers on a repeat flowering plant will speed up the formation of the next flowers. You will notice that the stem supporting the flower will always die back when it’s task is accomplished, by removing it the process is simply speeded up. A spent flower that was a solitary bloom should be cut away just above the next or lower leaf joint, from which point the next bloom will grow. The same applies to clusters of flowers. Although removing the flower individually is fine whilst waiting for others to finish but the whole cluster should be removed down to the next or lower leaf joint. Of course this is not such an easy task on a large climber, where one or two spent flowers may have to remain. They will fall eventually.
Roses are very thirsty plants and require regular watering, especially if growing in pots. They are also very hungry plants and to promote good health and the maximum production of flowers we would recommend feeding your roses after pruning with something like ‘Top Rose’ or a similar high nitrogen feed. They will also benefit hugely from a high Potash feed applied fortnightly throughout the flowering season. Either ‘Uncle Tom’s Rose Tonic’ or ‘Tomorite’ work very well.
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Most modern roses are propagated by budding, a form of grafting whereby material from the cultivar is placed under the bark of a root stock where the two eventually fuse and the cultivar begins to grow. Once this happens all evident parts of the root-stock, i.e.the branches, are cut away leaving the cultivar able to take over the roots of the host plant. Sometimes, especially if the roots are damaged, a shoot of the host plant will begin to grow. As soon as this is noticed it should be removed, as cleanly as possible from the plant. The host variety used is often stronger in growth than the budded cultivar and if allowed to grow will often take over thus sapping the strength of the cultivar causing it to become weak and eventually die. The sucker should be traced to its place of origin and, by applying pressure with the thumb, should be pushed downwards until it comes away from the root. This is more difficult if the sucker has reached a stage of being mature when it may have to be removed by cutting. If the cut is not very precise and any of it is left, it will actually promote further branches of the sucker to grow. Hence it is important to catch them whilst still small. Most standard roses are propagated in the same way but instead, both the stem and the roots are the hosts and suckers can emerge from both. For this reason any shoots seen growing from the stem of the standard should also be removed, in the same manner by applying pressure with the thumb.
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