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Pruning

Pruning promotes healthy flowers and should be undertaken in early spring. Wearing a tough pair of gardening gloves, first cut out any diseased, damaged, dead,weak or crossiing stems using sharp secateurs. Then, using secateurs or a pruning saw, make sloping cuts, just above an outward-facing bud, as follows:


ESTABLISHED BUSH ROSES: On Hybrid tea (large flowered) roses,shorten last year's strong shoots to four to six buds and weaker shoots to two to three buds.With Floribunda (cluster-flowered) roses shorten strong shoots back to leave 30cm growth and less vigorous ones more severely. Trim patio or miniature roses back to 10cm of the previous season's growth. Trim all bush roses back after they finish flowering in november to stop wind-rock.

BARE ROOT BUSH ROSES: When planting bare-root bush roses between October and March give plants an additional pruning (even though they look pruned). Cut back to around 8cm from ground level, which looks savage, but it will encourage the roots to grow and produce a stronger plant in the long term.


CLIMBING/RAMBLING ROSES: Tie in strong sideshoots to their supports,then reduce their length by a third,shortening any sideshoots to two or three buds.

If growing climbing roses against a wall or fence, train them in September/October to grow horizontally (fan out). Stretch wires out along the wall/fence attached to vine eyes/nails,and bend the rose over,attaching it to the wire with string or raffia. The wires should be spaced at 60cm intervals starting above soil level. After a time,vertical stems will be thrown up from the trained stems. Use the strongest verticals arising from the base and/or the middle of the plant to train along higher wires to create another tier if required. Prune the remaining vertical stems to 1cm from the horizontal stem during September/October. In this way you will avoid an unsightly tall plant with a few flowers at the top and nothing below.

True ramblers flower only once each season and immediatly after flowering cut out flowered stems to ground level,tying in new ones.

See also www.rhs.org.uk.

LOOKING AFTER YOUR ROSES

FEEDING: A well-fed rose is a healthy rose,so regularly feed your plants;

Clay soil: add a rose fertiliser in March (after pruning) and once the first flush of flowers is over (usually late-June/July).
Sandy or chalky soil: Give roses a small handful of rose fertiliser each month from March to the end of July.
Loamy soil: roses will benefit from three or four feeds between March and the end of july.
Containers: use a slow-release fertiliser,and liquid feed from mid-July until September. Apply a graular fertiliser each spring and replace the top few inches of compost every other year with fresh.

WATERING: Although roses will tolerate a dry soil, they thrive in a moist, well drained soil. In dry weather, provide an occasional good soaking-watering little and often is not advisable. Watering in the morning or keeping leaves dry helps reduce incidence of disease.

PESTS & DISEASES: Much has been written on keeping roses fre from pests and diseases, but with good husbandry (proper feeding and watering) and choosing healthy rose cultivars (seek advice from rose specialists/garden centre/nusery staff, they can be avoided.If diseases appear,spray with a proprietary fungicide and prune out any badly affected stems. If pests (aphids) are troublesome,try wiping them off or use a proprietary brand of insecticide.(Ask garden centre/nursery staff for advice.)

MAINTENANCE: Snip of the dead headsa of finished flowers weekly to promote regrowth.
A shoot with light green leaves,green stems and a few thorns coming from the base of the plant could be a sucker. Do not cut it off-pull it off as deep as you can (with good gloves). If it is coming from underground, dig the soil away and pull it off.
Mulch around the base of rose plants in spring with garden compost,leaf mould or well rotted manure to keep moisture in the ground,smother weeds and improve the soil.
Rake up any dead leaves around your rose in winter to prevent infection from disease.
By following these guidelines,you can have roses that flower for up to five months of the year with the minimum of attention.
Happy rose growing!

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