It’s rose pruning season! Our tips in today’s blog are specifically for bush/shrub type of roses that repeat bloom throughout the year. Roses that only bloom during spring (many climbers) should not be pruned until after they have finished their spring blooming period. 

When to prune: Heavy pruning for roses takes place twice a year in San Antonio; once in early spring, and again in late August. The best time for pruning spring roses is the last two weeks of February. This gives you time to prune away the old wood before spring brings on new growth. We use Valentine’s Day as a good reminder of when to get your pruning started.

What to use: Start off with clean, oiled, sharp bypass pruners. Need a new pair? Rainbow Gardens carries Corona Bypass Pruners and this type of pruner makes the cleanest cuts. It’s a really good idea to sanitize your pruners between making each cut. You can do this easily by dipping your pruners into a container filled with a 9:1 water/bleach mixture. This will greatly reduce the threat of spreading disease.

How much to prune: Spring rose pruning is the time to get pretty severe with your cuts. You can usually expect to prune about one/third to one/half your rose bush/shrub, leaving your rosebush about knee high. This type of pruning will spur on new growth and encourage the production of spring blooms.

How to prune: Remove old, gray canes (branches) by cutting them back to the bud union (swollen knobby area at base of plant). Also remove any weak, spindly growth in the inside of the bush. Remove suckers that sprout out below the swollen, knobby base of the rose bush. When reducing the height of your rosebush, look for buds that face outward from the middle of the plant and make cuts directly above these buds. Prune at an angle so that the new growth will face out from the center of the bush. This type of pruning creates an open vase shape, which allows for great air circulation and encourages more spreading growth. Bag and discard cuttings and foliage from the soil around rosebushes. This helps eliminate the threat of disease being transferred to new growth.

(Pics show the area to cut just above the bud, and the swollen bud union at the base of plant where you remove old gray canes.)

After pruning: Since rosebushes are dormant at this time, spraying them with Neem Oil is recommended. This horticultural oil spray helps prevent and treat fungus issues, mites, scale and other insects. We recommend getting into the practice of spraying Neem Oil only in the morning hours or later in the evening. Although there won’t be an issue this early in the year, when temperatures get warmer, Neem Oil can damage foliage when sprayed in hot afternoons

What’s next: Time to go ahead and stock up on your rose fertilizer for next month’s spring growth. We love Rose Glow and Espoma Rose-Tone. Create a monthly feeding schedule, then sit back and enjoy those beautiful rose blooms as they put on a spectacular show the next few months! For another great source of rose information, you can always contact The San Antonio Rose Society, they’d love to share their knowledge with you. See our blog on more tips for growing roses successfully here.

~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy