In the Garden with Doug Craver: March 1999
By Doug Craver

From the Winston-Salem Rose Society Clippings, March, 1999

Pruning

Except for the promise of beautiful, fragrant blossoms to grace our yards and homes and share with friends, we could be tempted to give this job the proverbial "lick and promise." But we have learned that a job well done yields the results that make it worthwhile.

We reduce the height and sometimes the number of canes for primary and secondary reasons. The primary is to funnel the vigor of the plant into fewer, but stronger, growth buds that will yield the kind of blossoms that we proudly give to our friends and say "I helped grow this." The secondary reasons are as follows: As we reduce the volume of the plant, we also reduce the number of disease spores carried over on the canes. The lower we prune, the less blackspot we have early in the season. The other main secondary is the shaping of the bush. We prune excessive or crossing canes from the center of the plant to encourage air circulation and to make it easier to get good coverage when spraying.

A few other details I can mention with less words are:

  1. Higher pruning will produce more blooms, while lower pruning produces better quality;
  2. Normally we look for outward-growing bud eyes, which we cut 1/4 inch above. The exception would be plants that sprawl. To get a more upright plant, prune to inside buds that show a tendency to grow up instead of out.

Elmer's glue, shellac, pruning paint or thumbtacks will help keep the cane borers (sawflies) from doing their dirty work.

I realize the above may be boring to our seasoned members, but it may be helpful to our newer members, which is why consulting rosarians write for this monthly feature column.