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February 11, 2014 > Pat Kites Garden: Rose pruning time

Pat Kites Garden: Rose pruning time

By Pat Kite

Yes, it is time to prune your roses. For many years I have exuberantly sliced and clobbered, and my many rose bushes seemed to do just fine. However, this year, I have been more diligent, doing a little bit each day.

First, open up the center of the rose bush by removing all branches and twigs that cruise through the middle. This gives good air circulation and sun permission. Eliminate all dead stuff including last centuryÕs leaves piled up in the middle. Somebody recently asked me whether it is a good idea to leave those red or orange rose hips, i.e. seed containers, on the rose bush. No. Take them off. If the rose bush is busy with seed pregnancy, it is not strengthening its roots or limbs for the coming season.

In California, it is not necessary to prune very low. Knee height or higher is fine, depends on the type of rose. Look along the remaining branches for little leaf buds. Some may even have started to teensy sprout already. Cut about one-fourth above an outfacing leaf bud. There will be several on a branch, so you can pick a height you want. Cut at a 45-degree angle with a curved cutter. The low part of the slant should be opposite the leaf bud. Outfacing leaf buds will give outward-bound side branches, which is what you want.

Pruning the climbers is a different agenda. Here your goal is often to get the plant to grow horizontally as well as tall. Try to train the branches in your chosen direction rather than hacking at them. Those long canes will carry flowers, the best bloom coming from two or three year old wood. I only have a few climbers and admit they are good arm-attack plants. A reminder: check with your doctor about a new tetanus booster. Some folk tell me this is not necessary, but other folk insist it is.

Since many readers insist on hearing a story, here we go again! According to a Romanian legend, the rose was once an exquisitely lovely princess who dazzled the sun with her beauty. The sun could not stop gazing at her, so for three days in a row he forgot to vanish in the evening. As a result, there was no night. To make sure this did not happen again, the rule of the Universe changed the lovely princess into a rose. This explains why a rose hangs her head and blushes whenever the sun shines on her.

Speaking of blushing, pink roses, so it was said, became so because Eve kissed a white rose in the Garden of Eden and it blushed with pleasure.

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