Caring for Roses: Pruning & Feeding

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Posted on 11/09/2021


How and When to Prune Your Roses

When researching how to grow roses,there are two questions that come up more than any others and I have tried to give the most succinct, informative answers possible to those questions. As to whether or not to prune the first year, our advice is to use a light hand after the first season. The exception might be a very vigorous roses that put out lots of growth. But try not to prune as hard as you would an established rose.

1. Why to Prune Roses:

Your rose will contiune to grow without any pruning, but an annual early spring trim will stimulate growth, help to maintain a desired shape, and improve air circulation.

2. How to Prune Roses:

First look at the crown of the plant at the base where all of the branches meet. If you see any canes growing below the crown from a grafted rose, these are ‘suckers’ and need to be removed. Dig down and cut or pull them from the root.

Second, remove any dead, crossing, or weak branches, no larger than a pencil. These should be cut off at the crown.

Damaged or diseased branches should be cut at least 2 inches below the damaged area. When you look closely at the branch you will see tiny buds jutting from the sides. Make your cuts 1/4 inch above one of these buds in the direction you would like the branch to grow.

You have now vastly improved your plants health, flowering strength and appearance.

Tree Roses:

Prune the top growth back by about half. This will encourage new growth and maintain the compact rounded habit.

Shrub Roses:

Allow the plants basic framework to develop during the first two seasons in your garden. Clean out the small spindly shoots only. Then you can treat them as hedges shearing off the top third of the plant, leaving the rest to grow.


Climbing Roses:

Climbers usually bloom best on two year old wood. Remove only twiggy growth and damaged or non-productive stems. Reinvigorate growth every 2-3 years by removing the old woody canes in favor of the green, more flexible canes.

English Roses:

Most English roses can be grown as either a shrub rose or a small climber. Follow applicable instructions above.

2. How to Feed Roses:

Producing as many complex blooms as a rose does every season requires a huge expenditure of resources. They need nitrogen for new growth, and they need potassium and phosphorus for flowering and over-all health. These elements are found heavily in organic matter in healthy living soil. In most gardens you will have to amend the soils nutrients for the most successful rose garden.

Every year mulch generously with composted manure, compost or both to achieve a rich soil balance. You can also supplement with a chemical fertilizer like our controlled-release ‘Dynamite Select‘ which also contains calcium and micronutrients. Be sure to apply fertilizers within the dripline and use mulch to maintain soil moisture and keep soil nutrients from washing away.