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Rose Pruning Techniques 3 ~ The Ideal Cut

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The ideal cut is at an angle away from the remaining bud to keep the water from collecting in the branch tip. The ideal cut is about 1/4" above the bud. I use bypass pruner's that I sharpen and maintain regularly. I put the blade portion of the pruner's adjacent to the branch part that I want to keep. The anvil will damage the cambium and therefore is against the portion of the branch on the top that will be removed.

I will make fewer than 5 cuts a day with a razor tooth saw even when pruning 100's of roses. It is difficult to make accurate cuts with loppers. If I can't cut the branches with my hand pruner's I use the saw.

I do not have a predetermined height that I prune the different types of roses. I try to minimize the number of joints that are in a branch or cane. Each joint works like a kink in a hose. It takes more energy for the plant to bring nutrients and moisture up and down the cane if there are more joints. I try to keep as many unbroken buds on a cane as possible. An unbroken bud is one that is still a red bump on the branch. It is right above a leaf. I try not to keep stubs with four or fewer buds.

I find that I get cut up by rose thorns when I use gloves or wear protective clothing on my arms, the clothes just get tangled in the thorns. The rose thorns just go through my gloves anyways. I am more careful without the armor. And I can feel when I touch a thorn. My sleeves get stuck on branches and then I really get scratched up trying to extricate myself. It pays in saved blood to be careful.

At one time or another I disregard all of the things that I try to do. My most important rule of thumb (besides keeping both firmly attached) is that I have a reason for every cut that I make.

I leave the canes as tall as the young canes go on Grandiflora and Hybrid Tea roses.

If the tips of the branches on once blooming roses are removed they may not flower. For these I just take out the older canes and strip the leaves.

I leave the canes as long as possible on climbing roses. Once there are small flowering shoots coming out of a portion of a cane during the previous year there will be little more new growth in that section of the cane in the next. If the shoots are sizable (a couple of feet long or more) I keep them.

I prune many of the David Austin or Romantica roses as if they were climbers.

I leave more twiggy growth on Floribunda, Moss, and Miniature roses.

Shrub roses including Rosa chinensis mutabilis and the Rugosa roses require almost no pruning at all.  I just try to keep them from swallowing their neighbors.

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Last modified: July 4, 2015