Linda Guy, longtime Rosarian at Bellingrath Gardens and Home, led a session on “Raising Roses” on Wednesday, February 10, at 10:30 a.m. as part of the Winter Wednesdays series.
Here are her tips on pruning roses in winter.
Step One: Timing is important. The proper time to prune roses on the Gulf Coast, based on typical weather patterns, is mid-February through March 1. “Valentine’s Day is the rule of thumb,” Guy said. Pruning earlier may leave new growth too vulnerable if there is a late freeze.
Step Two: Spread away the leaves and mulch from the base of the plant. Look for stems that show damage or signs of disease, and cut those away. Also remove “suckers,” tiny sprigs that arise from the root system.
Step Three: ldentify the most productive canes and look for any bud eyes (tiny knobs on the stem that mark the start of a new branch). Trim 1/4 inch at a slight angle above the bud eye, bringing the height back to 18-24 inches. Older bushes may be left taller. Remove older, unproductive canes and twiggy growth on remaining canes. Remove any dead stalks, cutting them as close to the base as possible.
Remember that even though pruning may seem harsh, it actually improves the overall health and appearance of the bush by forcing it to renew itself, thereby extending the life and productivity of the rose.
Linda Guy’s recommended varieties
For disease resistance: Mother of Pearl (grandiflora), Sunshine Daydream (grandiflora), Belinda’s Dream (floribunda), Orchid Romance (floribunda), Pope John Paul III (hybrid tea), Hot Cocoa (floribunda), Heaven on Earth (floribunda)
Good varieties for hot humid areas: St. Patrick (hybrid tea); Marilyn Monroe (hybrid tea); Moondance (floribunda); Daybreaker (floribunda); Love and Peace (hybrid tea); Julia Child (floribunda); Carefree Spirit (shrub); Elle (hybrid tea); Dick Clark (grandiflora); Memorial Day (hybrid tea); Europeana (floribunda)
More good varieties: Veteran’s Honor (hybrid tea); Double Delight ( hybrid tea); Lady Elsie May (shrub); Traviata (hybrid tea); Touch of Class (hybrid tea); Nicole (floribunda); Louise Estes (hybrid tea); Outta the Blue (shrub); Fourth of July (climber); Aunt Ruth (climber); Altissimo (climber); Gemini (hybrid tea); Olympiad (hybrid tea); Wild Blue Yonder (grandiflora); Cinco de Mayo (floribunda); Jeanne Lajoie (climbing miniature)
New roses for 2016: Easter Basket (floribunda); Pink Flamingo (grandiflora); Pink Traviata (hybrid tea); Cherry Parfait (grandiflora); Bolero (floribunda); Eternal Flame (hybrid tea); Oh My! (floribunda); Love Song (floribunda).