Rose growers across the country are in different phases of their spring flowering at the moment. Those further south are past it, those in the middle part of the country like me are at the end of it and those further north are just starting it. While many roses bloom all season, there is still nothing like the first spring bloom flush when the garden is a technicolor blaze of glory.
When the spring bloom flush winds down is a good time to get in the garden and do some simple maintenance to keep your roses looking their best for the rest of the season – and with one particular chore into next season and beyond. With that in mind here are a few simple things you can do when the spring bloom comes to a close.
The first thing I like to do is give the roses a good deadheading and even some shaping. We just a did a video on that and the post on it can be found by clicking here. The spring bloom flush is usually followed by rampant growth, which is why I feel it’s a good idea to trim the roses back a bit. If not, they can really get out of hand quickly!
Once you’ve done that check the plants for dead canes or ones that are showing some dieback. Don’t panic about the dieback as this is normal for this time of year. It may have been a late cold snap that took a while to manifest itself, or it may be the plant deciding it does’t need that many canes. I see it all the time after the spring flush. If the dieback is just at the tip cut below it until you see a white center in the cane. If the dieback is severe, say more than 50% of the cane, just take the cane out completely at the base. The rose will quickly regrow another one.
Trim the laterals on your climbers. Climbing roses have two types of canes. Main canes that come from the base and laterals, or side shoots, that bear the flowers. The laterals grow off the main canes, can be very long and stick out all over the place. They are what make a climbing rose look like its having a bad hair day. Regularly trimming them after a bloom flush keeps the rose tidy. They can be trimmed to within twelve to eighteen inches of the main cane. If you aren’t sure what they are, or how to do this, we did a video a while back and the post with the video can be found by clicking here.
Prune the spring flowering roses. Most spring flowering roses bloom on old wood. Old wood is defined as “last year’s growth” so it’s best to prune these now so they can produce new canes this year for next year’s spring flowering. New growth this year is next year’s “old wood”. Don’t be afraid to prune them hard this time of year. As long as you do it right after the spring flowering the new growth will be hardened off in time for winter.
Lastly, the chore that will last for many seasons to come. Taking out an old cane. In previous posts we talked about doing this during pruning time. Taking out an old cane encourages fresh canes to grow and those are the ones that bear the most flowers. This constant act of rejuvenating the rose keeps it fresh and in peak flower over many seasons. During pruning time is the best time to do this but right after spring flowering is another one.
Quite often during spring flowering and shortly after you will see new canes emerging from the base. If you see them emerging into a space currently occupied by an old cane you were thinking about taking out, go ahead and take out the old one now. This will put the energy that would have gone into that old cane into the new ones. By fall they will have grown leaps and bounds and taken the old cane’s place. Furthermore, be hardened off in time for winter.
As we’ve always talked about garden roses don’t require lots of work. Yet, like all other plants a few seasonal chores at the right time keeps them in peak health, growth and bloom.
If you have further questions please feel free to post them on our rose discussion forum by clicking here.