Pruning used to worry me. A lot. I’d wonder when to prune and where to cut and then when the deed was done I’d wonder if I’d killed the plant. Then one day something happened that showed me how tough plants can be.
A kind neighbour brought me a couple of roses from her garden. Builders were working on her house and they had removed all the plants in their way. She wondered if I would like the roses. I couldn’t believe that the sad brown sticks with twisted bare roots were the same beautiful plants I’d admired a few months earlier. The builders had hacked the stems back to within a few inches of the roots. My neighbour insisted that they’d be fine as long as I didn’t let the roots dry out. Really?
I planted them immediately, gave them a good watering and forgot about them for the next few months. By the following summer the roses had produced strong new shoots and the most beautiful scented blooms. Each year they grew bigger and better. There was no evidence that they had been transplanted. It was miraculous.
That event taught me two things
• Most gardeners are kind and generous people.
• Most shrubs will survive pruning if you pick the right time of year…when they are dormant sometime between autumn and early spring.
Reduce height to prevent damage from wind rock.
Now I’m not suggesting that anyone should prune their roses in such a brutal way this autumn but mature shrubs do need pruning to reduce their height. Roses have shallow roots and their tall stems are easily caught and whipped around by strong winds.
This wind rock can damage your plants.
This is a really easy way to approach pruning.
1) Remove any dead, diseased or damaged wood with secateurs. Healthy stems are a creamy white colour inside. If it’s black cut again lower down the stem.
2) Cut out a few of old woody stems at the base with long handled loppers. Don’t go mad here because many flowers are produced on these mature stems. New growth is slender and green, older stems are thicker and browner.
3) Remove the top third of the plant with secateurs. To encourage the plant to carry on growing outwards prune to an outward facing bud.
So I’m pruning my roses now ahead of the big storm on Monday and our more usual November gales.
Do you grow roses in your garden?