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How and when to prune your roses

March 15, 2010

At this moment, I’m not sure.

Mid-February is the normal season for trimming roses at Busch Gardens. They fall on the winter work calendar right after crape myrtles and hydrangeas.

The colloquial wisdom says to prune roses when the forsythia bloom. But in this area, some of those crazy things bloom in December. So that method is out.

So I pulled out the textbook and looked for the correct answer. Virginia Cooperative Extension’s pruning calendar says roses are best pruned in February or March. But that doesn’t solve the dilemma either.

So at this moment, I’m not sure.

Most roses should be cut when dormant, but also nearly ready to break bud. The majority of roses here at Busch Gardens are Knock-Out® roses. The general rules for pruning can be found on numerous Web sites: remove dead, diseased, or damaged (in this case, cut until the cane is white inside); remove weak or twiggy branches less than the diameter of a pencil; and remove anything that is rubbing. Make a clean cut about ¼” above a bud, at a 45 degree angle. The goal is to create an open, airy form for the new season’s growth.

All of our roses get maintained throughout the season to keep the best blooms for our guests, but Knock-Outs® will also continue to bloom and maintain a “cottage garden” appearance if left alone during the season.

So at Busch Gardens, we cut and hope for a best outcome, and time will tell if our answer is correct. When do you usually prune the roses at your home? Can you share any words of wisdom?

Sheila
Landscaper at Busch Gardens

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