Pruning Rose Bushes

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p34_n06_COLOR_Horticulture_Hightlights_Rose_PruningMany advocate that spring, when the forsythia bushes are in bloom, is the best time to prune rose bushes. Your roses will look their best when you remove all but the plump, green pencil-sized canes and prune those that remain back to about one-third their height. Following that main pruning, trimming rose bushes back to five-leaf leaflets as each round of flowers fade, keeps them shapely and productive all summer. See the following helpful steps:

1. Cleanse and sterilize the blades of your pruners with bleach or rubbing alcohol to prevent the spread of fungus and disease.

2. Put on sturdy gardening gloves to protect yourself from thorns.

3. Select a cane with either blooming flowers that you want to cut for a bouquet or a cane with flowers having faded or dropped petals.

4. Examine the cane below the flowers, looking for a leaflet with five leaves. Rose canes commonly have a few three-leaf leaflets just under the flowers, and five-leaf leaflets down most of the center of the cane, with seven-leaf leaflets near the bottom.

5. Select a five-leaf leaflet that points away from the center of the rose bush. The height of the selected leaflet on the cane is up to you. Keep in mind that the lower you cut on the cane the thicker the new growth will be and the larger the new flowers, but you will remove more of the foliage that fuels plant growth. Cuts higher on the cane result in more, but smaller flowers. The American Rose Society recommends selecting a leaflet near the top of the cane for the first round of deadheading and farther down for subsequent trimmings.

6. Cut at a 45-degree angle so the selected leaflet is ¼ inch below the upper end of the slope.

7. Repeat for all other fading flowers.

8. Rake up and remove any fallen petals and trimmings to avoid fungal and insect disease.

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