I was fortunate enough to attend a course on Roses at the weekend. I have been pruning roses for over 10 years now, with reasonable success, but I believe it is never too late to hone those skills… It was a one day course run at The Garden House in Brighton by a guy from Peter Beales Roses.
We spent the morning learning tips, techniques and tools involved with container planting, planting in a border and pruning a Gallica Shrub rose. We also learnt how to prune an overgrown rambling rose, that has one flush of flowers, over an arch.
This is the Gallica Rose (Charles de Mille) before pruning
Midway through pruning
Wow what a difference…
The stems of old wood were brown compared to the young green growth of this year. As this rose will flower next year on the growth from this year, it is the green shoots we want to keep. The green growth comes from the base of the plant and also near the top of the existing brown wood. We pruned out lots of old brown wood by cutting it off at the base of the plant. This really thinned out the plant. Of the remaining brown stems that had new green growth at the top, we cut back the green growth to about 20cms from where it had broken out of the main brown stem. This is enough green wood for the flowering stems to grow from next year… thus a healthier plant with less congestion for disease to harbour and a height reduction that will be filled again by flowering stems.
I can’t wait to see it flowering next year now.
This Rambling Rose is called Dorothy Perkins. This is it before pruning
It has one flush of flowers and next years flowers will grow from ‘old wood’ which means that any of the new young growth this year can be cut off back to the framework. However for future years of flowering, the new growth can be wound around the arch or tied onto supporting wires to increase the framework for future years flowering. So, for example, take a great long stem of new growth from this year, cut off all the little branches along it’s length, to about 4cms from the stem and wind in this great long stem attempting to keep it as horizontal as possible -it flowers better the more horizontal it is tied in:
Young stem wound in close to the support.
Keep doing this with all the unruly new growth – either cut off and discard or keep to train in but cut back the side shoots along the entire length and then wind it in.
This is the end result
Tidy, clear and ready to flower next year.
It is important to remember to cut out any dead wood in rose pruning. Quite often it is easy to tell if it is dead but where you are not sure just scrape away the surface of the stem with your secateurs and if it is green below the surface, it is still alive and if it is brown it is dead.
There is still plenty to learn about roses and rose pruning but this is a start!
A single flush rambling rose can be pruned after flowering (generally from July onwards. Most other roses are pruned in the winter during the dormant months up to the end of March (roughly)