Following on from last week, I’m keeping in line with a rosy theme. During the next couple of weeks, you will be able to prune the hybrid tea and Floribunda roses.
This job should be done on a pleasant day so I am writing about it in advance because those days can be far and few between at this time of year. 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 and 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 smarter.
Next, remove the surface weeds by simply digging out the dandelions. However don't dig the entire bed because the soil sticks to the footwear.
Now for the pruning...
Prepare by finding an empty dustbin and put an old compost bag inside – this will be useful for cleaning up because as the pruning is done, the pieces can be cut up small so that they fall into the bag.
Be bold when pruning! Reduce the lengths of every stem down to three or four buds by 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 all through the summer.
The next job is to remove any suckers. They normally rise from the roots, are very thorny with smaller leaves and there are seven leaves to each sucker on average. There’s no point in pulling them off so the best way to prevent them growing again is to use a fork. Therefore, prick over the soil and with your hands look carefully to find where they start to grow from the roots. Then using a sharp knife, carve out the entire sucker from the root – it won’t grow again!
After pruning, lightly fork over the bed, scatter rose fertiliser and work it in with a fork.
Once the new growth is underway, use four ounces per square yard of Vitax Q4 Pelleted Fetriliser and a teaspoon full of Epsom salts to scatter around each plant. Lightly fork into the surface to ensure the foliage will grow superbly, and this also helps reduce the chance of black spot disease.
Once the foliage has grown, spray the bushes with a combination spray such as Multirose which will kill off pests and prevent diseases. Two weeks later, spray with Vitax Copper Mixture at the strength recommended on the green drum. Another two weeks later, spray again but with RoseClear.
Three different sprays are recommended because using the same product often causes the pests and diseases to become immune to the spray. For total control all summer, repeat this programme every fortnight and you will have brilliant roses – you certainly deserve a good show considering how much effort has gone into growing them.