Pruning now promotes better bloom later.

Contrary to what the pleasant weather suggests, it is still winter. Most plants are resisting the temptation to break dormancy prematurely. They must know that the days are still short, regardless of the weather. Most plants are surprisingly proficient with scheduling. Nonetheless, dormant pruning should happen sooner than later. This includes pruning roses. They have been ready for a while.

Technically, roses are ready for pruning as soon as they begin to defoliate. Also technically, rose pruning can be as late as the buds of the bare stems remain dormant. Later pruning is preferable in some regions where pruning wounds are susceptible to pathogens. Such delay is riskier here where mild weather can disrupt dormancy prematurely. Wounds are less vulnerable to pathogens.

Pruning roses is about as important as pruning deciduous fruit trees. Without adequate pruning, rose plants become too overgrown to perform properly. Crowded stems are unable to elongate as they should. Diseases and insects proliferate in congested foliage, and damage bloom. Specialized pruning concentrates resources into fewer but significantly more vigorous stems and flowers.

Although the technique may seem to be drastic, pruning roses is not very complicated. Hybrid tea, grandiflora and floribunda roses should retain only three to six of their most vigorous canes. The canes should be only about two feet tall, and cut just above a healthy bud. If possible, they should be canes that grew during the previous year, from bottom to top. Older canes should be removed.

Pruning roses of other classifications may be slightly different. Some types may retain more canes. Climbing types likely retain old canes for several years before replacement. Carpet roses and other ungrafted roses can be cut nearly to the ground, leaving no canes at all. Tree roses are like bush types, but on top of short trunks. New canes grow from their graft unions on top of the trunks.

Of course, potentially vigorous sucker growth that develops from below the graft union of any grafted rose must go.

4 thoughts on “Pruning Roses During Winter Dormancy

    1. That seems late, but I suppose it is not. I have pruned foliated roses in Los Angeles, but not as late as the middle of February. I suppose it would not be a problem, since, even here, roses are still bare by that time. Even if not bare farther south, they are likely still dormant.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The Roses in the back garden are dormant and I will prune now but the one growing up the front of the house has 21 buds and flowers on it. I know I should prune it back now to give it a rest but it so hard to cut off flower buds.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I know that one. I used to go to the Los Angeles region annually around January 18, and was typically tasked with pruning roses while there. They were mostly dormant, but not quite as dormant as I like them to be.

      Like

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