California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

Rose Pruning - Choosing a Cane

I remove older rose canes if there are other younger replacement canes. With thick canes like these, loppers often do more damage to the plants and often to the gardener than a small pruning saw would. According to the rule of thumb, the ideal number of canes is five. If there are more than 5 and they are well distributed I leave them alone. If there are only a couple of good ones and some old tired canes. I just keep the good ones. The fresh cuts often spur new can growth. I don't want the canes leaning on one another as the rubbing produces entry points for disease. A healthy young cane is generally green or reddish depending on the health and variety of the rose. There are three healthy young canes on this rose. The remaining three gray canes are two years old. I will keep them for another season if they are still producing strong growth at the top. Keeping the center of the plant open so that air passes through helps prevent fungal attacks. Because the sunlight can get in to the middle of the plant and because the airflow dries out the dew earlier providing less time for fungus to get established. I will score the bud union when I think that desperate measures are required and I am convinced that the risk of wounding the cambium is worth improving the chances of a new cane breaking through at the wound site.

The size of the rose bush is dependent upon the variety of the rose and the health of the roots. If a rose is cut back severely it will recover. This knowledge can give you the confidence to do the right thing. A large plant has a large set of roots. They will have the energy to rapidly replace the parts that have been removed. Since so many of the David Austin Roses are so large I tip prune them until they flower and then remove the end of the cane to where the new growth sprouts out. This encourages a very full and free flowering plant.

click here to continue with the rose pruning primer (the perfect cut)