By Colleen Sheehan
  • Everything’s coming up roses

    Everything’s coming up roses

January

Get your secateurs ready –it’s rose pruning time again. 

Here at Weeding Women we prune roses in July and August. Roses need annual pruning to encourage new growth and new growth results in more flowers, so it’s something you’ll want to be doing over the next few weeks.

Don’t be afraid to cut hard, discarding one third of the rose and tall fast-growing roses should be cut back even harder. 

This means removing as many old stems as possible and leaving young stems to generate lush new stems and in turn lots of blooms.

The other reason we prune hard annually is to reduce fungal disease, by allowing air and light into the shrub. 

This is simply done by removing all useless, old and misplaced wood. Remove any lingering flowers, leaves, dead (brown or grey wood) and suckers. Also remove all spindly, weak-looking growth.

Before you begin, check the condition of your tools. You’ll need to ensure that all the blades on your quality secateurs, long handled loppers and pruning saw are sharp and clean. Clean cuts to the branches are imperative, as blunt tools will damage the stems allowing disease to enter the plant.

See each rose as an individual and aim to cut (at its origin) any branches which cross through the middle of the plant. Suddenly your pruned rose should start to resemble a vase.

The three or five green, healthy, vigorous branches which you choose as the framework for the next season’s growth, should be cut back to an outward facing bud. This is to encourage the new growth away from the centre of the plant.

While you prune it’s very important to remove all the fallen flowers and leaves, so as to reduce the amount of fungal spores which may lay dormant until next spring. 

For hygiene purposes make up a solution of 1 per cent bleach to 1 litre of water (10ml per litre) to dip your secatuers into as you prune between each shrub to eliminate cross infection.  

Spray each pruned rose and the ground around them with a lime sulphur immediately after pruning. If the spraying is left until later, the lime sulphur will burn new shoots.

Lime sulphur is a multi-purpose spray which works by forming a protective film of sulphur, preventing the entry of fungus into plants and trees, and specifically to roses. It also has other uses with fruit trees, ornamental plants and deciduous trees. It is the most effective spray for winter in that it controls hard to kill pests and diseases and also controls moss and lichen. As with all products, read the instructions on the bottle well.

With pruning and spraying completed, sprinkle a designated rose food around the drip-line zone and work in well. Make sure never to heap fertiliser around the trunk of any plant any time.

As soon as new growth begins, then start to water well every couple of days. 

The two types of roses which vary in the style of pruning from the common variety of Hybrid Tea and Floribunda, are climbing roses and miniature roses. In this case, climbing roses which are trained onto a trellis or fence and layered in a horizontal position to encourage flowering, require a much lesser pruning. Miniature roses which are really tiny replicas of the Hybrid Tea forms, obviously require less pruning too.

Now is also the time to re-position any roses which weren’t thriving where they were. Transplant dormant winter roses into a sunny spot. However be careful not to let the roots dry out at all, even though it’s a grey winter sky, rose roots must remain moist during the transplant.  

Visit weedingwomen.com.au for more information.

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