Roses Are Plants Too!

Spring Came Early And I Haven’t Pruned My Roses Yet!

Jack Russell terrier gazing up at white rose bushes
Even Bonnie, our Jack Russell Terrier, loves the spring show!
Photo/Illustration: Paul Zimmerman Roses

It seems to happen every now and then, and with the crazy weather of the past few years more often lately. You plan your pruning for your normal time and then suddenly spring arrives early, the roses burst forth with leaves and before you know it they are so far along you wonder if you should prune at all!

The understandable worry is, if you prune when they are too far along will you lose the spring flowering? Roses in spring are often at their best because the days and nights are still cool enough to produce those large flowers. Additionally, the sun isn’t hot enough to bleach the colors.

You have a right to worry about that because likely if you prune late you will miss the spring flowering.

So what to do? Panic? Prune anyway and miss the spring flowering? After all, it’s pruning time and you are supposed to prune during “pruning time” aren’t you?

The best thing to do is relax and do – nothing.  That’s right, nothing. Let the roses go through spring flowering and then prune after they bloom at the start of summer. Done early enough in summer they will put lots of new growth that has plenty of time to harden off for winter.

When I say do nothing, I don’t really mean nothing at all. I would go ahead and trim out dead wood, weak growth and damaged canes. That’s good horticulture any time of year. You can even do a light shaping on those roses that have gotten out of control. Leave lots of growth to produce and support those great spring flowers. Just a light trimming is all.

Let the roses put on their spring spectacular and then prune afterwards. Due to my travel schedule this is happening to me this year and I may wait until right before the Japanese Beetles arrive. That way they will have nothing to eat and there is a certain satisfaction in that!

Happy Roseing

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