May 29, 2013
Roses: type and pruning

Roses need full sun, at least six hours per day.


Hybrid tea
Large, many petaled, single or double flowers, usually alone and occasionally in clusters of three to five. Blooms are usually held singly on straight long stems that are good for cutting. Many are fragrant. Ideally used in formal rose beds. Always grafted, 60 to 125 cm tall.

Blooms range from singles to fully double, produced in clusters. The blooming period is maintained throughout the year. Hardier than hybrid teas, although the flowers are smaller. Very showy when mass-planted in beds, or spot them through a foundation planting. 40 to 100 cm tall, usually grafted.

The largest-blooming and showiest type. Flowers are large like the hybrid teas, but produced in cluster like the floribundas. Vigorous and tall, from 100 to 200 cm. Always grafted.

Sports or mutations of bush roses. The flowers may be single or double, of hybrid tea or floribunda type, according to parentage. The main shoots should be trained as horizontally as possible, resulting in the growth of lateral branches. These laterals will grow upward to provide height and cover and it is here the flowers will be produced.

Shrub roses
Greatly under-valued and under-used. Modern shrub roses, derived in some cases from native roses that are free of disease and insect problems, are extremely hardy and require no special care. Some are as neat as floribunda, with flowers as large as hybrid tea and many are fragrant. Include shrub roses in the border with lilac, forsythia, and mock orange. As an informal flowering hedge or privacy screen, they are unsurpassed. The bright red fruits of some varieties add colour in the fall and winter.

Spring pruning
As soon as thawing permits, take away the evergreen boughs or remove the rose collars if you installed any. Somewhat later, remove the soil that you mounded up around the base of the canes the previous fall, and rough prune by cutting winter-killed tips down to the live wood. When the yellow flowers of forsythia are in bloom, your roses should be showing signs of life. The buds should be swelling and quite obvious but showing no leaves. At this time, cut out all dead stems, twiggy growth and retain only three or four strong canes at the most. Cut these down to about 15 cm and cut within 6 mm of an outward-facing bud.

Pruning to encourage reflowering
Observe the arrangement of the leaves on the rose stem. Under the flower will probably be a single leaf and then sets of leaves with three leaflets and then a series of leaves with five leaflets. Do not simply remove the dead flower, but cut quite low in the stem to the five-leaflet leaves. This form of pruning in mid-summer results in strong, vigorous, fast replacement of new blossoms and is practiced by the cut-flower rose trade. Remember to cut just above an outward-facing bud. The bud originates in the corner where the leaves emerge.


Hard pruning
Stems are cut back to three or four buds from the base, leaving short, sturdy stems about five inches long. Recommended only for newly planted roses or to rejuvenate old or neglected shrubs.

Moderate pruning
Recommended stems are cut back to half their length. Weak stems are cut back further. Always cut to just above an outward-facing bud. Winter weather may have already killed the top half, so cut to the first live wood.

Light pruning
Stems are cut back by one third.
Not recommended as it produces tall spindly plants with early but inferior blooms.