Sunday, January 8, 2012

Pruning Roses in the Inez Grant Parker Rose Garden

The gorgeous roses in the Inez Grant Parker Rose Garden in Balboa Park got some expert and novice TLC this weekend during its annual pruning. The San Diego Rose Society generously donated their time and expertise to teach beginners to successfully prune roses. I had previously pruned my roses back in November, a time frame that I later discovered was way too early for Southern California roses. November is the appropriate prune back time for much colder climates (say East Coast). When I did the pruning I did so without much confidence in my cuts - was I doing this right? What if I kill my precious roses?

Turns out, you really have to work hard to kill roses. At the bare minimum, if you don't damage the root ball/ bud union as the base of the plant, the rose will come back and bloom in the spring. The tools of the trade are hand pruners, longer handled pruners, a small saw for cutting back thick, dead wood, and a heavy duty pair of garden gloves rated for use with roses. There are differing techniques among rose enthusiasts, but the San Diego Rose Society taught the following process for Southern California gardens:

  1. Remove the access height, trimming the plant down to about 2 feet tall.
  2. Remove the dead branches and branches that are smaller that a pencil in diameter.
  3. Remove canes that branch over the middle of the plant, creating a bowl-like shape.
  4. Remove canes that cross one another; choose the more dominant cane to keep.
  5. Most plants will have 4 -5 dominant canes remaining per root ball.
  6. On the dominant canes, you will see small buds, you want to cut right above this small bump, at a 45 degree angle. Please ensure the bud bump faces outward. New growth will move outward from this point.
  7. Remove all leaves. At this time in the year, many leaves are diseased. Complete removal ensures new growth will be clean and healthy.
  8. If pruning in January, your first blooms should arrive in March.
I begin trimming the canes down to 2 feet tall. Notice my heavy duty gloves - I went home with no injuries!
A San Diego Rose Society member removes dead wood at the root ball.
Hubby removes crossing canes and begins to create a bowl shape in the remaining canes.
This is a good example of a pruned rose bush. 4 - 5 canes remain with no canes in the middle of the plant.
A San Diego Rose Society member demonstrates where to cut the canes, right above the new bud growth.
The finished product - we made it through a whole rose bed! The leaves will need to be raked up and removed to prevent orange rust, black spot, and other rose diseases.
I completed pruning the year old plants. I had to be careful not to over prune these delicate roses!
Hubby and I worked for 3 hours pruning roses - Hubby estimates he completed pruning of 60 plants! We will have to return in late March to see if our handiwork was helpful to the plants. If you visit this rose garden any time soon, please remember that this is dormant time. The pruned plants make looks stark and dreary, but they will return in full glory in a few short months. 

Lastly, this entry is my milestone 100th post and I am so excited to continue building on my gardening knowledge and sharing it on this blog. I encourage you to show your support and sign up to follow my blog using Google Connect - all you need is a gmail account!  Thank you again for all you support!

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