|Hybrid Tea Peace Rose before pruning|
Sharpen your pruners and grab your gloves – it’s finally time to prune the roses! In Colorado, the best time to prune roses is around the end of April, after the danger of frost. By now, the roses have broken dormancy, and have lots of green growth.
Your roses probably look something like this Hybrid Tea Peace rose in my garden. The goal is to get the dead canes cut out, select a few strong healthy canes and prune them back to live wood. Pruning roses is a bit art and a bit science, and the pruning cut must be done correctly.
|Correct pruning cut|
|Crossed canes - prune one of them out|
To make a correct pruning cut, first find the bud eye that is in the green part of the cane. In some cases, it may already have leaves, but not always. Cut the cane about ¼” above the bud eye, at the angle illustrated above. Don’t cut so close that the new growth breaks off. On the other hand, a cut too far above the bud eye may delay new growth. On Hybrid Tea roses, cut out canes that cross each other and try to open up the center of the bush so that air can circulate. Shape the rose so that new growth grows outward.
|Damage to unsealed cane|
If the pruning cut is thicker than a pencil, it needs to be sealed. You can use Elmer’s glue or a commercial rose cane sealer. Completely cover the cut. This helps prevent damage from Carpenter bees.
Miniature roses can be cut back closer to the ground, and you are mostly pruning for shape. Old Garden Roses and Shrub Roses don’t need much pruning except to clear out dead wood. For Climbing Roses and once blooming roses, cut out dead wood and then wait to do additional pruning after the first bloom.
|New shoot growing from below the graft - prune it out|
You may see some shoots that are really different looking from all the other new growth. Sometimes they are reddish and thornless. This is probably new growth that is coming from below the graft, and it needs to be removed. Follow it all the way down to its origin and pull it off.
Soon after pruning your established roses, apply fertilizer according to the package directions, and water thoroughly. That’s it! The first blooms of Spring aren’t far behind.