Some dry weather will make everything rosy

The rose bushes need some attention.

The rose bushes need some attention.

How do you get your amaryllis to flower like this?

BRIAN KIDD: Your letters and this week’s gardening tasks

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I am hoping the weather will improve because the bush roses need to be pruned. All we need is a few days of dry weather.

Don’t worry about this particular job, as pruning roses can be done at any time between now and the end of March. But we must keep in mind that time flies and it is easy to forget important jobs.

When it is possible to tread on the soil, put an empty dustbin with a liner inside and prune every branch back to a bud facing outwards, right down so that more than three-quarters of every stem is cut off. My word, this seems a bit bold!

Yes, you are right and if all the dead wood is also removed, the rose bush will be invigorated.

What happens after pruning so drastically? In simple words the plant panics because it thinks you are trying to kill it, the top bud grows much faster than the others, the leaves quickly begin a process called photosynthensis, the leaves unfurl, absorb the sunlight and the energy passes down to the lower buds which respond by producing their own leaves.

We can ensure this happens by feeding the roses and we start as soon as the roses are pruned.

Buy manure in bags. Fork over the soil when the pruning is completed and spread a three to four-inch layer over the surface of the bed.

Once the leaves emerge, apply Vitax Q4 pelleted fertiliser at a rate of four ounces per square yard over the surface and rake this into the layer of manure.

Do you grow roses in pots? Lots of people have them on balconies or patios.

If you would like those roses to look even better than when you bought them, take them out of the pots, prune them right back to the lowest possible bud facing outwards, even if this means leaving only a couple of inches on every stem.

Knock the bush out of the pot and remove every morsel of compost.

Wash the pot, use a layer of crocks, (broken clay flower pot pieces) over the holes in the base and use John Innes number 3 compost but add 10 per cent sharp sand, mixing together, and place little earthenware feet below the pots. This keeps out earthworms.

Earthworms are wonderful in the open ground, but they eat all the fibrous material in pots.

Even though the compost has been completely replaced, ideally roses in pots should be fed once a month with a liquid feed. I recommend Maxicrop Complete.

Start to feed in April and stop at the end of September. Superb blooms guaranteed!

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