During the next couple of weeks we will be able to prune the hybrid T and floribunda roses. This is one of those jobs we need to do on a pleasant day, so I am writing about it in advance this time. Mind you, I can remember always pruning in mid March but by the end of February the buds on the roses have started to swell and in some gardens little shoots have appeared already.
Start by cutting the grass edges or if the grass edges are crumbling, use a half moon edging iron to make a new edge, pick up the edgings and put them into the compost heap. This job makes the bed look a lot smarter. Removal of weeds is the next job, simply remove any surface weeds but dig out the dandelions. It’s not a good idea to dig the entire bed because the soil sticks to the footwear.
Now for the pruning…
Use an empty dustbin and put a former compost bag inside so that as the pruning is done, the pieces can be cut up small so that they fall into the bag, this saves a great deal of time as there is no clearing up afterwards. Clearing up often takes longer than the job itself.
Be bold. Reduce the lengths of every stem down to three or four buds and using a slanting cut with sharp secateurs choose an outward facing bud so that the new top branch which is the most vigorous grows towards the outside of the bed.
This will ensure each rose has the correct shape through the summer.
The next job is to remove any suckers, these rise from the roots and are always very thorny with smaller leaves. It’s no good just pulling them off, the best way to prevent them growing again is to use a fork. Prick over the soil and with the hands look carefully to find out where they start to grow from the roots and using a sharp knife, carve out the entire sucker from the root. It won’t grow again!
After pruning, the bed is lightly forked over and normally a rose fertiliser is scattered over the surface and worked in with a fork.
This job is best left until the roses begin to grow again.
Once the new growth is underway, use four ounces per square yard of Vitax Q4 pelleted and then a teaspoon of Epsom salts scattered around each plant and lightly forked into the surface to ensure foliage will be superb. This also helps reduce the incidence of black spot disease.
Once the foliage is fully unfurled the bushes are sprayed with a combination spray such as Multirose which will kill of pests and prevent diseases.
A fortnight later spray with Bordeaux mixture to prevent fungal attacks followed a fortnight later with a spray of Roseclear 3.
For total control all summer, repeat this programme every fortnight and you will have brilliant roses.