finds the rosarian very busy in the rose garden. About the time you receive this newsletter, you should be doing your
heavy pruning on the established roses. The purpose in pruning any plant is to promote plant health, repair damage,
restore and rejuvenate, control growth, achieve special effect, and encourage flower production. All of these apply in the
maintenance of our roses.
Before beginning the pruning process, it is necessary to have
the proper tools. A good, sharp secateur (pruning shears) is the primary tool. A secateur is a tool with one sharp
blade which passes closely against a broad blade and makes a clean cut. The sharp blade is curved with a flat back and
the broad blade is hooked. An anvil pruner is one with a sharp blade that comes down in the center of a broader blade
to make the cut. The anvil pruner is not recommended for pruning roses. (An exception to this may be when someone
has injured their hand or has painful arthritis. Anvil pruners that work in a ratchet process are available in many
garden centers.) A lopper is simply a larger version of a secateur with handles approximately 24 inches long.
A pruning saw differs from carpentry and other type saws in that it cuts on the pull rather than the push and provides better
control when removing larger branches and dead wood, thus, preventing inadvertent injury to live canes that are to be left
on the bush. Thorn resistant, supple leather gloves, gauntlets to cover the arms to the elbow, and a kneeling pad are
also good items for the pruning job.
Late January and early February is the normal time to do the heavy
pruning on our roses and prepare them for a new season of growth. If the bush is well established (at least one years
growth) you should cut all the canes back to about one third of their growth. Try to select the canes that you will
leave on the bush and trim all others back to their originating point. Leave at least 4 good canes for the new years
growth. Remove crossing canes that will rub one another, then strip all the foliage from the remaining canes.
At this time, an application of a horticultural oil spray to the bush and surrounding area will aid in prevention of disease
and harmful insects. DO NOT use oil sprays once new growth has started.
When the pruning is complete, it is time to apply some fertilizer.
Before beginning to fertilize, take a spading fork (made like a shovel, but with four tines) and push it into the soil all
around the bush, rocking it slightly with each plunge. The process will promote the fertilizer entering the soil and help
in aeration and moisture. My first selection of fertilizer for the year is primarily organics. They take a little
longer to break down but they are good for the soil and provide many elements that are needed for healthy roses. I suggest
purchasing the organics from an established garden center as they are well blended and do not attract unwanted guests to your
garden the way many natural products will. (One year I applied fish meal, only to go out the next morning and find that
some critter had located every spot that I had applied it around the bushes. There were very neat holes remaining, but
no fish meal.) Make sure the roses have had water about one day before applying the fertilizer. If you use dry
fertilizer, water it in well. Maintain a good watering schedule according to the needs of your garden. Springtime
here in Florida
is quite different from northern climes in that we can be very dry during this time.
Now sit back and wait for that first flush of blooms and admire