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A rose by any other name...

Would still need pruning.

Late winter (February or March) is often a good time for pruning roses.

I have a wild rose bush in my garden and I didn't understand why it wasn't flowering. Then I researched and found out that the flowers grow on wood that is 2 years old, and every year I had been cutting off this wood at the age of 1 year old. Now every year I leave some of the 1 year old wood to flower in the next season. It's easy to be intimidated by the idea of pruning off large pieces of what is often an expensive plant but you can easily make a come back from any mistakes you make and Rose bushes are best over pruned rather than under pruned.

General tips for pruning roses this Valentines day:

  • Cuts should be no more than 5mm (¼ in) above a bud and should slope downwards away from it so that water does not collect on the bud. This applies to all cuts, whether removing dead wood, deadheading or annual pruning

  • Cut to an outward-facing bud to encourage an open-centred shape. With roses of spreading habit, prune some stems to inward-facing buds to encourage more upright growth

  • Cut to the appropriate height, if a dormant bud is not visible

  • Cuts must be clean, so keep your secateurs sharp. For larger stems, use loppers or a pruning saw. Sterilise inbetween plants by cleaning blades with alcohol.

  • Prune dieback back to healthy stalk (healthy stalk looks white/green inside)

  • Cut out dead and diseased stems and spindly and crossing stems

  • On established roses, cut out poorly flowering old wood and saw away old stubs that have failed to produce new shoots

  • With the exception of climbing roses and shrub roses prune all newly planted roses hard to encourage vigorous shoots

  • Remove suckers growing at base of plant.This is because many roses are grafted (the upper flowering part of a variety with good flowers but weak roots is stuck onto the lower stem of a different sort of rose that has vigorous or disease resistant roots but crap flowers so that the plant gets both great flowers and strong roots) so suckers growing from below the graft point will grow into a different type of rose to the one you want and should be removed) the graft can often be seen as a bump on the stalk of the plant near the root. remove any growth that is below the graft.

Pruning an unknown rose

Perhaps if you've inherited a rose or lost the label - you may not know what type of rose you have. In which case, follow our basic tips below to get you started. Prune in February or March.

Climber or rambling type

If your rose has long arching stems, is very tall or needs some sort of support to hold it up then it is most likely a climber or rambler.

  • Where there is only one thick old stem going down to ground level, go easy as it may not regenerate if cut hard back. Instead, shorten by between a third and a half

  • For multi-stemmed roses, aim to take out one or two of the oldest looking stems (i.e. grey, flaky bark) to as near to the base as you can

  • If the response the next season is for the rose to send out a lot of strong but barren (non-flowering) shoots, chances are it is a rambling rose A rose that responds with less vigorous, flowering growth is probably a climbing rose.

Shrub or bush type

Larger roses might be any number of types, from hybrid tea and floribunda to species and shrub roses. If in doubt;

  • Take out one or two stems as close to ground level as you can or to younger looking (green barked) side stems low down

  • Shorten remaining stems by between a third and a half

  • If the response the next season is lots of vigorous regrowth that flowers well, chances are it is a floribunda or hybrid tea

  • Otherwise, it is more likely to be a type of shrub rose

Feed all pruned roses with a general purpose or rose fertiliser in spring. Mulch with garden compost or manure.

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