Kelp Meal Tea Tonic For Our Roses

Kelp Meal Tea Tonic For Rosebushes

Stan V. Griep
Consulting Rosarian
American Rose Society – Rocky Mountain District
Member: American Rose Society
                The Loveland Rose Society
                The Denver Rose Society

We have all seen and heard about the energy drinks on the market today, some are useful to help give us a needed pick-me-up. Others are not so good and can cause more harm than good. Well here is a pick-me-up tea tonic for our rosebushes. The nutrients list for kelp meal is a long one, seemingly jam packed in fact as we all know. The roses really do love their kelp meal as they respond so nicely to it when they get a feeding of it. Without further ado here is how I make my kelp meal tea rose booster tea tonic;

I bought a water or drink tumbler with a wide mouth opening on it and screw on lid with no straw or straw hole in it for the soaking process. I add cool tap water to the tumbler so that it is about 1/3 full. A cup and ¼ of Down To Earth Kelp Meal is then added to the tumbler (you can use more kelp meal if so desired depending on the size of your tumbler as well as your kelp meal of choice).  Add another 1/3 of cool tap water, screw on the lid tightly and shake the contents up well. Open the tumbler up and add enough cool tap water to nearly fill the tumbler. I leave just a bit of air space to allow for the next good shake up of the contents. Screw the lid back on and shake the contents up very well again. The shaking allows all of the dry kelp meal to get well mixed in with the water. Sit the tumbler in a cool place for at least an hour. Shake the tumbler contents at least once more at some point during the hour sitting time.

Once the kelp meal has become well re-hydrated it is ready for the next step in the process. I like to add a little Super Thrive to the tea as well just for a bit more nutrients but you do not have to do so.  The items you will need to get ready to make up the tea are: a clean five gallon bucket or buckets depending upon how much tea you need to make for feeding all of your roses and plants, a smaller clean painters bucket, a tablespoon measuring spoon, a large water dipper with long handle, a bottle of Super Thrive and a watering wand hooked up to the garden hose and water spicket.

Move all of the items out to the garden mixing area and enough tap water to each of the five gallon buckets such that they are only about 1/3 full. Dump the rehydrated kelp meal in the tumbler out into the small painters bucket, this will require more than one shake to get most of it out. There will still be some liquid left in with the kelp meal, pour this liquid off into the waiting five gallon bucket of water or split it equally among all of the five gallon buckets of water using a finger or two to hold back the kelp meal. Now take the tablespoon measuring spoon and add a good tablespoon of the rehydrated kelp meal per gallon to each five gallon bucket. Thus 5 tablespoons of the rehydrated kelp meal to each bucket, stir it up well in the bucket with the watering wand or a long stick. Now add 1 tablespoon of Super Thrive to each of the five gallon buckets of water and kelp meal. Stir it up again. Place the watering end of the watering wand into the five gallon bucket of kelp meal and super thrive mix and fill the bucket(s) up to within an inch or so of the top of the bucket(s). Move the watering wand around in opposing directions as you fill the bucket(s) with more water from the bottom up. This helps get the kelp meal mixed well into the water in the buckets. Once the bucket(s) are full of water our tea is ready to be served to our awaiting rosebushes.  Can you hear them all saying, “Me first please, me first!!”   (smile)

Carry the bucket or buckets of the tea mix to strategic areas of easy access to your rosebush areas. Using the long handled big water dipper, stir the contents of the bucket and draw out a nice dipper full of the tea. Give each rosebush about four dippers of the tea depending upon the amount your dipper holds. My dipper holds 32 ounces of liquid so it works out to a gallon of the tea per large rosebush. For the miniature rose bushes I use 2 dippers of the tea per bush, which is the same amount I give to our other flowering plants such as the clematis and sun roses. Keep stirring the tea with the dipper too prior to each dipping out of the tea.

Watering the rosebushes lightly the day before this kelp tea feeding is recommended, as the light watering helps disperse the tea down into the soils better where the awaiting feeder roots can take it up nicely.

Make some tea up for other plants and shrubs with any of the remaining rehydrated kelp meal in the small painters bucket or apply the kelp into other garden areas and mix it into the soils well. Do not try to save any of the left over rehydrated kelp meal as it can go bad rather quickly and it is best to start with a fresh batch each time. I rinse out my tumbler container and the small painters bucket into one of the final five gallon buckets of the tea mix so that the containers are nice and clean for the next use.

The rosebushes and other plants will love the boost of nutrients, especially if given to them right after a big bloom cycle. It also makes for a great early Spring wake-up call boost too.

Betty Boop – Floribunda Rose Stan V. Griep SVG Photography-2016
Betty Boop – Floribunda Rose
Stan V. Griep
SVG Photography-2016

Training Climbing Rosebushes

Training Climbing Rose bushes

By Stan V. (Stan the Rose Man) Griep
American Rose Society Certified Consulting Rosarian – Rocky Mountain District
Denver Rose Society Member

Whenever I see pictures of roses climbing up an ornate trellis or arbor, climbing up the side of an old structure, old fence or even up and along an old stone wall, it stirs up the romantic and nostalgic juices within me. I imagine it does the same for many folks due to the number of photos and paintings there are of such scenes. Creating such scenes does not just merely happen in most cases, it takes some real effort and an ever vigilant rose loving gardener.

Just as it is with raising our children, it is of the utmost importance to start early on in helping guide them as to the proper way to go, training them to follow a good path. First on the list with our rose bushes is to pick the area and structure desired for the climbing roses. The structure being an ornate or plain trellis, arbor, fence, building wall or stone wall/fence, then the area being a place with good sunshine, well-drained soils and a place where we really want an eye-catching focal point in our garden or landscape. Next on the list is selecting the ones that have the color or colors desired, bloom form desired, fragrance and habit desired. We kind of need to stand back and look at the desired area with whatever the climbing structure is in place. Create a vision or mind painting of what our desired outcome is.

After purchasing the climbing rose bushes that meet our needs, the training begins. I like to use either a rubbery wire reinforced rope or stretchy vinyl type tie off material to attach the canes of the rosebush to the structure selected. While holding the canes in place nicely it also allows some flexibility so as not to damage the canes as they fill out and grow. Even with this flexibility the ties will need to be changed out at some point due to growth. We need to wait for the canes to grow enough to tie them off and train them to go in the direction of best support that fits our earlier mind painting. Canes that grow out and too far away from the structure initially can be either pruned out, or monitored for a while as they grow to see if they can be brought back into line and trained in the desired path. Do not make the mistake of letting them go too long though, as unruly canes can make for more work later. Also do not make the mistake of waiting too long to tie off / train even the canes that are going in the right direction, as they too can become unruly in what seems like the blink of an eye. Once they become unruly either our mind painting must change to allow some redirection, or we will need to prune them back and wait upon new growth to guide things back as desired. For training our rose bushes up the side of a building or stone wall, we will need to provide some anchoring sets to tie off to. This can be done by drilling some small holes along the desired training path and setting an expansion or glue in type anchor, perhaps a friction fit type. I prefer either expansion type anchors or glue in type as they do not ten to work loose with wind and growth movement like the friction fit ones seem to do.

I have been called over to do a garden visit at the homes of some folks that just moved into a new to them home where the climbing roses have turned into untamed monsters! This can and will happen if we do not stay vigilant of what the rosebush is doing. This can also happen if the main person tending to them gets ill or passes away. Others do not know how to tend to the roses and they start growing however they wish to without any form of guidance. It really does not take long for the once beautiful mind painting creation turns into a jumbled up mess. There are times when such a mess can be returned to being a vision of beauty but it takes considerable work to get it done. Lots of pruning, stepping back to look at things, lots more pruning, then finally back to where things need to be. With some of the older climbing roses this type of heavy pruning will also mean sacrificing many blooms, as these older climbers only bloom on what is called the “old wood” which refers to the previous season’s growth. Even so, it is best to do the work and bring the beautiful vision back. In some cases, like one I personally worked on, the bush has just gotten way too out of control. The owner wanted it totally chopped down and removed as it had become a destructive monster to her. I asked her to allow me to try to bring it all back prior to removing the bush. I got an apprehensive okay. Late that fall after the bush had started going dormant, the canes were all pruned out and down to within 6 inches of the ground. Drastic move you say? Maybe, maybe not. The following spring the rosebush did indeed send up new growth. The new growth was gradually tied and trained to a nice new ornate trellis which would then trail out onto the fence line on either side. Thus returning to a vision of beauty over time that would cause delight again instead of the feelings of frustration and depression it had come to cause.

Climbing rose bushes are indeed work, they will demand your attention for some time to come rest assured of that. If you are up for the challenge you will be richly rewarded not only by the beauty you behold, but also the ooo’s and ahh’s of delight from garden visitors and those enjoying your photos of the vision of beauty your efforts have created.

Roses Of 2013_June
Blaze Improved Climbing Rosebush – Photo by Stan V. Griep – 2013
Roses Of 2013_June
Blaze Improved Climbing Rosebush – Peaking through porch side of lattice – Photo by Stan V. Griep – 2013

Gardening with Arthritis and other such Ailments

Gardening with Arthritis and other such Ailments
A few things to remember to make it easier on you:

·         Work during the time of day that you feel best. For example, if you feel stiff in the morning, then save gardening activities for the afternoon.

·         Avoid working in the same position or doing the same activity for long periods of time. Switch tasks every 30 minutes or so and take 15 minute breaks every hour. Taking periodic stretch breaks can also ease tension and reduce stiffness.

·         If you feel significant pain, stop the activity and wait until you feel better before continuing. If you feel pain the day after gardening, then reduce the difficulty and duration of activity you do the next time.

·         When possible, use larger, stronger joints and muscles. For example, use palms instead of fingers to push or pull, and use arms or shoulders instead of hands to carry things.

·         When possible, use larger, stronger joints and muscles. For example, use palms instead of fingers to push or pull, and use arms or shoulders instead of hands to carry things.

·         Avoid pinching, squeezing, or twisting motions. Avoid activities or tools that put direct pressure on fingers or thumbs.

·         Weed the garden after irrigating or rain, as moist soil makes it easier to pull weeds with less resistance.

·         As hard as it may be to do… Ask for help with tasks that are difficult or cause excess stress.

·         If you must work close to the ground, place only one knee on the ground and keep back straight. When possible, use a stool or kneeling pad.

·         Use mulch in the garden to reduce the need to water.

·         Have a storage area or tool shed close to the garden so that tools are close at hand.

·         Make sure the garden has a nearby water source so that hoses and watering cans don’t have to be carried far. Using drip irrigation systems can alleviate the need to drag hoses and sprinklers around the yard, reducing the strain on joints.

 

Tool Tips 

 

·         Keep pruners sharp to make cutting easier.

·         Wear a carpenter’s apron with several pockets for carrying small tools.

·         Widen tool handles with foam tubing or grip tape to make them easier to grasp.

·         Avoid doing any activities that require gripping for long periods of time.

·         Use a wheelbarrow or cart to haul tools and supplies around the garden.

·         Use ergonomic tools that have long or extendable handles to avoid bending or stooping.

·         When working close to the soil, use tools with short handles that are lighter and easier to manage. Small, lightweight children’s sized tools may be easier to use.

 

                                             

                                                                     

  

Selecting Rosebushes for Your Gardens/Rose Beds

Selecting Rosebushes
By Stan V. Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian
Over 40 years of Rose Growing Experience
 
 

             There are many varieties of roses available for purchase today. There are also many places to purchase rosebushes. On-line purchasing of bare root or potted rosebushes has become quite popular.  On-line purchasing of roses is especially popular when looking for a certain rose that is not available locally. No matter where you purchase your rosebushes, it is extremely important to obtain good high quality rosebushes. Nothing is worse for a beginning rose grower than to purchase a rosebush that is not healthy or has some other problems to start with. I have been contacted by beginning rose lovers that are extremely frustrated over the lack of performance of their new rosebush. I go over everything they did from purchasing to planting of the rosebush first. Then I inspect the actual rosebush to see if I can spot any obvious problems. Many times I have dug down along side a problem rosebush to find that its root system is nearly non-existent. The new rose lover had purchased a bare root rosebush at a local store that even though it was still in its plastic wrapping had started to leaf out. The new rose lover reasoned that the rosebush must be very healthy if it was leafing out so nicely while still in the wrapping.  Once the rosebush was unwrapped our new rose lover noticed that there were not many roots there at all, yet went ahead and got it planted and watered well. A warm afternoon followed soon after planting and all the foliage went limp and died. What once had been a happy and excited beginning rose lover, was now a frustrated and upset rose lover. In many cases that new rose lover feels that he or she did something wrong and thus roses are given the label of hard to grow or very finicky. Most of the time what actually happened was that the rosebush had its root system badly chopped off or cut back at some point either during its harvest for sale or perhaps at packaging time. The limited root system was packed in nice wet sawdust and was capable of getting all the moisture it needed to support the growth it started to put forth while in the wrapping. One the new rose lover took away that wet sawdust packing and planted it in the garden, even though well watered, the new planting medium did not have the same moisture providing availability. Through on top of that the warm to hot afternoon sun and a root system that is not developed or established enough to support any foliage and what you get is limp to crispy foliage very quickly. Most of the time the rosebush will die as the root system is just not sufficient to support it. Thus the passion of growing and enjoying roses gets a much undeserved black eye of sorts.

 

When buying bare root rosebushes always take a good look at their root systems and inspect them for any damage or possible signs of disease. If some areas of the roots look slimy feel free to prune them back to good tissue. If the root system does not look right to you take it back to the store where purchased and ask for another rosebush. If the rosebush was purchased on-line call the company and explain the situation to them. The company will then advise you on how they want you to handle the situation. The company it was purchased from will replace the rosebush in many cases.

Some companies will want the rosebush shipped back to them and then will send out a replacement. The canes of the rosebush must be inspected as well for any damage or signs of disease. If significant signs of damage or disease are found, follow the same steps given previously when finding problems with the root systems.

When purchasing rosebushes that are started in pots it is still necessary to take a look at the root system. Have one of the store or nursery employees tip the rosebush upside down while firmly holding the rose at the point where it enters the soils in the pot.

 

If the soils easily spill out of the pot to the point where the roots are exposed, it has not been in the pot long enough to get the root system growing and developing. In such cases the root system may well be in trouble when it comes to supporting its foliage when removed from the pot and planted in your garden or rose bed. There is nothing wrong with going ahead and buying such rosebushes, just be aware that you will need to keep an eye on the soils moisture and also make some provisions to protect the rosebush from the direct intensity of the sun for at least a couple of weeks. My favorite local greenhouse sells wonderful potted rosebushes that always seem to have very well developed root systems in the pots. When I remove them from the pots the root growth is easily seen and when tipped upside down a little of the top of pot soil may come out but the root zone stays intact. Many folks will say to be sure to get #1 grade roses which is a good idea, however there are times when the marketing folks have a different idea of what makes a #1 grade rosebush than what the typical rule is. The #1 grade rosebush is supposed to be the more mature bush with a better root system and will have 3 or more strong canes at least one of which must be a minimum of 1/2 inch in diameter and 18 inches in length. The #1 ½ rosebush will have 2 or more canes that are a minimum of 5/16 inch in diameter and at least 15inches in length. A #2 rosebush has canes but may all be very small diameters and the root systems are not well developed.

 

Part of selecting a good rosebush has to do with knowing where in your garden or rose bed you intend to plant it. Read the available information on the rosebush or rosebushes you intend to buy. The amount of room a given rosebush needs to thrive can differ greatly from rosebush to rosebush. Some hybrid teas like to stretch for the sky and do not spread out much. One would want to be careful about planting such roses where roof eaves or overhangs are close by. Many floribundas love to spread out and load up with their beautiful clusters of blooms. One would not want to plant such a rosebush in a tight or limited space environment.  Many rose lovers make such mistakes with miniature rose bushes as well. A wonderful lady from California that ran a miniature rose business originally started by her mother once gave me a major tip about mini rosebushes. She told me to remember that the “mini” in miniature roses means the bloom and not necessarily the bush. Thus it is just as important to read up on the miniature roses as well to see what their various growth habits are.

 

Keep in mind that the price you pay for a rose may not be a solid indication of how healthy or hardy the rosebush may be. In some cases I may pay $3.00 or less for a bare root plastic wrapped rosebush and get exactly what I paid for in that it will need much tender loving care (TLC) to get it going and even with all the TLC it will never really make much of a bush, thus all of that TLC was to no avail as the rosebush either did not perform well or died in spite of it. Thus that $3.00 purchase added in with all of my TLC time may equal zero in returns and hundreds in frustration. The same can be said for a potted and started rosebush that costs $25.00 or more as it may not perform well in my garden or rose bed environment but this is far less likely. Once removed from the optimum greenhouse growing environment, some rosebushes go into a bit of transplanting shock. The rosebush may appear to be stuck at a certain stage and existing buds are not opening and blooming.

 

As long as the leaves are looking healthy and not going limp and the buds remain erect and do not go limp, things will be fine in time. What we cannot see is the root system attempting to establish itself into its new environment. Adding some vitamin B1 solution, Superthrive or root stimulator to the soils around the rosebush should help with the shock as well as aid the root system in its development.

 

One of my grandmothers used to totally disbud the newly planted potted and growing rosebushes thus not allowing it to have that first cycle of blooms in her garden. Her reasoning was to allow the rosebushes energies to go into building and establishing its root system rather than making the rosebush try to do both produce blooms and build up its root system at the same time. She felt that usually either the blooms or the root system, sometimes both, had too much of a struggle thus not performing as well in the long run. The buds would open but the blooms will be flatter than they normally would be or will not last long at all. The blooms may be without the fragrance they were advertised to have. Giving the root system its best opportunity to get well established was the top concern, as the root system must be doing well for the rosebush to pass its “winter test” here in Colorado. So, while difficult to do, the total disbudding of newly planted potted and growing rosebushes would appear to have some merit.

 

Basically look every rosebush you are considering buying over very well. Then give it your best efforts to give it a good home that it will thrive in. A happy and hardy rose makes for a happy you! Also realize that no matter how much you pay for a rosebush it just may not thrive and that may not have anything to do with your efforts. I have had three rosebushes of the same name and variety perform totally differently. It comes down to the actual “will of the rosebush”. Some have a strong will to thrive and perform, others need more coaxing to perform and some must be part mule as they are stubborn all the way! If you love the rose and want it in your garden don’t give up on the variety, I encourage you to try another rosebush of the same variety. Seek the joy and peace that truly come with growing roses, do your best to keep frustrations to a minimum by studying this object of your affections. Seek out others in your area that grow roses such as any local Consulting Rosarians for their advice on tending to roses as their advice may well be better than any book ever written for growing roses in your location. A list of Consulting Rosarians listed by State may be found at the American Rose Society website at www.ars.org. I further encourage you to seek a local rose society, go to some of their meetings and check them out. Joining up is optional.

 

Now on to the preparations for planting and actual planting of our rosebushes…

 

WinterMagic100908BHPZ
Winter Magic – Miniature Rose – As captured by: Stan V. Griep

 

Deadheading Roses

Deadheading Roses
By Stan V. Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian
Over 40 year of Rose Growing Experience 

 

The subject of “deadheading” or the removal of the old blooms from our roses seems to generate some controversy much the same as pruning them. Basically, when it comes to deadheading your rosebushes, I recommend using a method that gives you the results you are looking for. Should you be told that you are doing it “all wrong”, do not immediately believe that you are.

 

I witnessed and was taught various methods of deadheading by my Grandmothers and my Mother as a young man. I not only witnessed and learned each method but also saw how the rosebushes responded to each method. For my mother, a side concern of deadheading seemed to be how the overall bush looked after the deadheading routine, as far as its overall shape and harmony with the garden or bed the roses were in. Deadheading was not only the removal of the spent blooms, it was also a time to shape the rosebush and consider how and where the new growth would come in.

 

My grandmother, Mary May, would walk around her rose gardens at deadheading time and take a particular spent bloom in her hand. With a quick motion she would “snap” the bloom off. This would leave a bare stick of a stem standing up in the air a little ways above the foliage. There was no shaping of the bush done with her method, as all she really cared about was the pretty blooms. The looks of the overall bush really did not seem to matter so much to her. She felt that she got repeat blooms quicker using her method and stuck with it.

 

My grandmother, Molly, would prune off the spent blooms down to a healthy looking leaf set junction with the cane. It did not need to be a five-leaf junction. The pruning point could be at a three-leaf junction as long as the cane looked sturdy and healthy there. Although she did not really concern herself with the overall shape of the rose bush, her method always left the rose bush looking better without all the remaining stems sticking up in the air all over the place. Well, in my opinion anyway!

 

Over the years, I honestly do not remember the differences in repeat blooming being that great with any of the methods. I do remember my grandmother Mary May that used the “snap-off “deadheading method, complaining sometimes that a new big bloom would sag or “flop over” as its stem was too weak to support the new big rose bloom

 

I have heard and read that deadheading to the first 5-leaf junction when pruning Hybrid Tea roses is a “myth”. Yet I have observed first hand the problems that can come about by not doing so, especially with large blooms. There have been times when I have pruned, or deadheaded, back to a second five or more leaf junction just because the cane looked too small in diameter to support a new nice big bloom.

One rule of thumb that I have read about was deadheading to the first 5 or more leaf junction where the cane diameter is approximately that of a pencil. There is no need to get out any form of measuring device to check the diameter. It is simply a matter of what looks sturdy when comparing the diameter of the cane or stem at the point considered for deadheading, and the diameter of the stem for the bloom that is to be deadheaded. If the bloom being deadheaded was a nice big one and did not sag or droop, then that same diameter of cane should be sufficient to support the new growth and bloom. If the bloom being deadhead did have a droopy nature, perhaps it would be best to prune back to a larger diameter leaf-set to cane junction.

 

With Floribunda and Grandifloras I learned to prune back to a sturdy looking leaf-set to cane junction. The five-leaf rule does not need to apply with these wonderful bushes. Nor does it apply to deadheading my miniature rosebushes. Still of concern with these rosebushes is keeping an eye on where the new growth will come in at, or in other words, deadhead to a leaf-set junction where the new growth will go in the proper direction for the particular bush. When the overall rosebush has a tight center portion already, it would be best to deadhead to a point where the new growth will go out and away from that tight center growth area. For my floribunda and grandifloras I prefer to have a full looking bush so I will deadhead to a point where the new growth will come more into the center area of the bush at times.

 

One key thing I recommend before deadheading any rosebush is to step back and take a good look at the current rosebush. Then do your deadheading looking towards where the new growth needs to go to either achieve or maintain the shape that you desire for the overall rosebush.

 

As one of my final touches after deadheading, I seal the ends of all the freshly pruned canes with Elmer’s White Glue. This helps to keep the cane borers or cane boring wasps from entering into the tender fresh center pith of these cut cane ends causing the death of the cane, a portion of the cane and even sometimes the entire rosebush. It is important to use the non-water soluble White glue and not the school glue so that the hard seal is maintained over the cut end of the cane and does not wash off. Some folks tell me they have used wood glue for this but I cannot recommend its use, as when I used wood glue it caused significant cane die-back from the point of its application. I have been informed that some formulations of wood glue may contain chemicals that will cause the die back of the living tissues.

 

My final touch to the deadheading process is to water each rose well and gently rinse down all the foliage on each bush that has been deadheaded. The roses do seem to appreciate as well as respond to this final touch.

 

Find a deadheading method that gives you the results you like and stick with it. No matter what method or technique you choose, enjoy tending to your roses! They enjoy the time you spend with them and will reward you in full measure. 

 

 

Honey Bouquet - Floribunda Rose - Photo By Stan V. Griep_C2011
Honey Bouquet – Floribunda Rose – Photo By Stan V. Griep_C2011

Pruning Rosebushes

Pruning Roses in Northern Colorado
By Stan V. Griep
Colorado Native Rosarian
Over 40 years of Rose Growing Experience

I am what is known as a “Spring Pruner” when it comes to pruning roses. Instead of pruning the roses way down in the fall after they have gone dormant, I like to wait until early spring when I see the leaf buds starting to form up well. My taller rose bushes do get a pruning down to about half their height once they have gone dormant in the fall. The fall pruning I do is to help prevent damage to the overall bush from winter winds and heavy snows. The winds and heavy snows can break over long rose canes causing great damage to the overall bush, sometimes to the bushes nearby as well.

I do the standard “by the book” type pruning with my hybrid tea roses for the most part. I select an outward facing leaf bud eye and prune on an angle away from the bud eye 3/16 to ¼ inch above the bud eye. That cut is then sealed with white glue that is not water-soluble. There are times when a particular cane may be at a fairly harsh angle from the center of the bush. In such cases I will select an inward facing bud eye and prune there. By pruning at the inward facing bud eye the new cane that grows forth will come back into alignment with the rosebush for a better looking overall bush. You need to look at each rose bush kind of like an artist looks at a blank canvas. Picture how you want the rose to be shaped. Then prune the bush accordingly. I prune all of my rosebushes with the “blank canvas” approach. A blooming rose bush is truly beautiful without a doubt. However a rosebush with wonderful overall form and loaded with beautiful blooms is indeed a work of art.

Here in Colorado, even with mounding the rose for winter protection, we can get some very significant cane dieback on our roses. There have been many times when the canes that are left on the roses after spring pruning are only 1 ½ to 2 inches long. Pruning down that far is required to get to a good white center of cane pith and a healthy bud eye. Such harsh pruning can make it extremely tough on the “blank canvas” approach yet it is still possible. You need to focus on where the bud eye is located and envision where the particular cane will be as it grows. You do not want canes to cross over one another creating a jumbled mess in the bush where insects or funguses can cause problems. Yet you do want a nicely shaped bush with lush foliage to properly display the beauty of the blooms.

The floribunda and grandifloras roses get pruned in much the same way as the hybrid teas except that I do not worry much about finding outward facing bud eyes. I still keep in mind where a cane will go as it grows so as to avoid the crossing canes. However with the floribundas and grandifloras I like a full looking rosebush that will fully present the beauty of the clusters of blooms against their rich foliage.

In my opinion, when making the pruning cut, it is better to have a flatter cut than a cut that is too steep. The angle of the cut is somewhat important to allow moisture runoff and such, yet it is not a crucial error if the cut is considerably more flat than a 45-degree angle.
The cut end of the cane can still be sealed and the new growth that forms from the bud eye still has a good base for support. Whereas a pruning cut that is too steep exposes more of the center pith than should be exposed and provides an extremely weak foundation point for the new growth. The steep cuts are also extremely hard to get a good seal on and will tend to allow easier pest invasion.

My mini roses are truly easy to prune as I simply prune away the winterkilled portions of their canes while forming up the bush. If the centers of the mini roses are too full I simply prune a couple of small canes out and the bush is done. In no time at all the new growth will have the overall form of the bush right where I want it.

When deadheading my roses I prune back to the first five-leaf junction with the main rose cane, as long as the cane in that area is sturdy and at least 3/16 of an inch in diameter. Too small of a cane at the area of new growth generation and future rose blooms will cause a sagging effect if the roses blooms are large blooms. In cases where the cane is too thin at the first five-leaf junction, I will prune down to the next junction where the cane is the desired size. The mini roses are an exception to this deadheading/pruning. When pruning my mini roses I simply prune off the bloom down to where the stem meets with the first group of leaves with no apparent effect upon the size or support of the rose blooms to follow.

Some other very important things to remember when pruning are:

1. Always seal the ends of the pruned canes that are 3/16 of an inch or larger in diameter with white glue or tree wound tar type sealer. This will help keep the cane borers away.

2. Always wipe down the pruners cutting blades with a Clorox or Lysol disinfectant wipe or dip the cutting blades into some form of disinfectant solution after pruning each bush. In some cases it may be necessary to wipe or dip them after each cut, such as when pruning out an infected or diseased cane. You do not want to spread the disease from an infected cane or bush to other canes or other rosebushes.

3. When finished pruning for the day and after disinfecting your pruners, spray the blades with some silicone lubricant spray or other protective lubricant. It does not take long for rust to form and damage your pruners. Plus the lubricant helps keep the pruners working well and not so hard on arthritic hands.

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