In a comment on a post a while back titled “Transplanting A Rose During The Growing Season” a reader asked a question about her “Mary Rose” bush. She had planted it next to a path thinking it would keep to a nice 4’. Next thing she knew it was throwing out 6’ canes and costing a fortune in snagged sweaters. First off let me say Mary Rose does usually keep to a nice size, but sometimes in warmer ones she will get larger. The reader asked me what to do about it.
This to me is further proof roses have somehow become segregated into a separate botanical plant care category. If it was any other plant, the reader would have done what any good gardener would, and simply trimmed it following her own good gardener’s instincts.
But not with roses! Oh no, trimming can only take place once a year during that mysterious time period known as “pruning season”. One only trims roses during that period and failure to do so will result in death of all your roses. Or worse yet a stern lecture from a rosarian likely wearing some form of rose print clothing and a glazed look. A Floral Clad Stepford Wife with secaturs.
But if Roses Are Plants, Too can’t we trim all season then?
Of course you can! Trim away, have a ball, save your sweaters.
However, follow a few simple guidelines. Try to trim no lower than around 1/3 of the mature height. Much more may be too much.
The best time to trim and reshape is after each bloom flush. You can trim and deadhead at the same time. Simply trim down to the size you want the rose to be, wait for it to bloom and trim again.
If you want to take that a step further, take note of how long the new “stem” gets before it blooms. If it’s only 6” long before it flowers than you can cut down to 6” below the height you want, and the rose will bloom at the desired size. If the stem blooms at 12” then you cut 12” below and so on. You can figure this out by simply measuring from the previous cut when it does re-bloom.
And lastly keep in mind this won’t work if you are trying to keep a rose with a mature height of 6’ down to 2’. That’s too radical. Roses, like other plants, have different heights of maturity and you need to plant accordingly.
So if your roses are grabbing your clothes, scaring your neighbors or your cat is missing grab your secaturs and start trimming – just like you would with any other plant in your garden.
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