Before beginning any trimming, make sure you use sharpened sheers so that you have a nice cut and do not tear your branches.
This time of year is the best time to get our established roses ready for the upcoming bloom season. But first we must take a careful look at each plant individually. Let’s first start with dead branches. If your rose shows sings of dead branches – you must immediately cut the branch to the main branch or at least to the piece where life is showing again.
Next look for any old blooms and snip them off. Many of last years blooms may turn into rose hips. Be sure to cut those off as well to encourage new growth on what has been your dormant shrub.
After dead heading any old blooms and rose hips ~ focus on shaping your rose branches to ensure a healthy plant. Roses here in the Northwest need to ’breath’. To allow roses to breath, air to flow properly through the branches to prevent disease. See in this photo the branch that is growing so close to the center stem. If I leave this branch alone, and new growth begins the branches will almost suffocate themselves allowing mildew to form and start your never ending fight of trying to keep beautiful roses. Thinning out your branches will absolutely help to get your season off on the right foot.
Next you should take a look at how much your rose bush has grown since you last trimmed it. I usually will trim all of mine down to about the height of my knees this time of year. This photo shows a new bud coming off of a main branch…if you are already seeing these where you live ~ be sure to cut it just after the new bud. If you look closely, you can even see new growth here starting at the base of the leaf. If you are cutting a branch like this you should cut just after this leaf and you will see healthy new growth within the next couple weeks. Shaping your roses is good for your roses and encourages more blooms.
Okay – now that you have shaped your rose bush, dead headed and trimmed off the dead branches. You need to carefully inspect each and every leaf. Yes, it sounds tedious – well, it actually is tedious…but you must do it to see healthy rose bushes in your garden. This photo shows Black Spot – we all have it and the only way to remove it, is to remove each leaf individually. If the base of the branch you are working with is firm, you can simply pull off the leaf by pulling down and it should snap off. if your branch is flimsy, snip it off with a garden snipping tool, or just use house scissors. If there are any of these leaves that have fallen onto the ground you must pick them up – if you don’t, the black spot will return to your shrub through the root system. DO NOT put these leaves in your compost!!!! At first your shrub will look naked – but will have new growth in just a few short weeks.
Another issue with Roses in the Northwest is white mildew. This can happen here because of all of the spring rain and cloudy days. Just snip off the effected areas – like I recommended above to eliminate this fungus. Again, DO NOT put in your compost. Diseased parts of your roses should be destroyed.
This is what healthy growth will look like – if you see anything else, remove it!
Another frustrating visitor to the Rose that will show up soon in our gardens are aphids. In fact, I squished a few today when I was out pruning my roses.
These horrible little insects will lay their eggs on our new buds which disrupts the formation of the buds causing holes in our newest blooms. The only thing to do – is snip the bud off. it will never recover from this initial hole where the eggs were laid – not to mention you don’t their babies devouring the next bloom that shows up on your plant. Many tips you can do to keep aphids at bay – is keep your plant healthy using the techniques I shared with you above. Aphids are more likely to attack weak plants. In the morning ~ I sometimes will go out and use a forceful stream of plain water from the hose will send them crashing to the ground which breaks their jaw…they cannot eat with a broken jaw – therefore you will not see them return to your roses. Bugs in the garden is one of the reasons I allow my hens to roam the garden…they keep bugs like these to a minimal. You can also make a mixture of 5 tablespoons liquid dish soap, a table spoon of vegetable oil to a gallon of water and spritz your plants. I have to laugh at the idea of my grandparents swearing that when they were young it was the soapy laundry water and the cigarette ashes and the spit from chewing tobacco on the porch make their roses so gorgeous.
So if you are in the Northwest area – get out in your gardens within the next couple weeks and get your roses ready for the upcoming season! I am happy to answer any questions and or help with anything I didn’t mention here.Happy Pruning! To see what I am linking to this week – please check my “Cottage Links” label…xoxo, tracie