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DAN'S PAPERS, February 8, 2008 Page 58 www.danshamptons.com

The Garden At Rock Cottage by Lance Brilliantine When it comes to roses, a gardener’s experience is an important consideration, and some gardeners prune early and hard to increase flowering, while others prune lightly and later, to avoid dieback and long recovery. All modern roses require pruning to shape them to desirable heights and shapes for the garden. Pruning can also encourage the production of larger, longerstemmed flowers on hybrid teas and more abundant clusters on floribundas. It may also benefit old roses to prune to encourage new vigor and blooms. Pruning removes dead, diseased, and damaged canes and helps to preserve rose health. In addition, thinning out canes from the interior of a rosebush increases air circulation and reduces fungus possibilities. One thing is for sure, it is still too early to prune roses – wait another two months. New, shiny redgreen buds are already showing, but pruning now will stimulate growth before the weather will support growth. Many gardeners wait until the last frost to prune their roses – which means as late as May on Eastern Long Island. This is really too late. We have found that mid-April is the right time to prune. When pruning, start by removing dead branches and canes. Healthy growth typically appears green or red, and dead canes appear gray or brown. When cutting, if the cane pith is dry and brown, continue cutting below this point until you reach a green or cream color. Remove damaged canes and ones that cross or rub on other healthy growth. When that task is completed, consider the shape of the bush. The classic “urn” shape that promotes a full-

shaped bush and an abundant flower display also promotes air circulation within the bush – so it is a good idea. The best approach, of course, is to let a bush grow for two years or so and to observe the natural growth pattern, e.g., bushy, rigidly upright, arching, etc. We like to maintain the natural characteristic shape when pruning. Hacking away at a bush will destroy the rose’s natural grace. An elegantly arching shrub that has been chopped down to a stubby plant has, it may be said, been butchered. Make the primary pruning cuts on healthy canes by cutting about one-fourth of an inch above a bud eye. Cuts should be made at a 45-degree angle to help with moisture runoff. The remaining bud eye should face outward – or at least in a desired growth direction. In addition, remove any canes that are thinner than a pencil. This provides sufficient size to support new spring growth. As you do this, keep in mind the desired finish shape for the rosebush. Imagine how the bush will look when growth occurs. The amount of pruning depends on the characteristics desired for roses during the blooming season. For more abundant blooms on smaller stems use a lighter pruning that leaves most of the canes. Prune about 30%. Remove very small canes and clean up the

center of the plant. Medium pruning removes more foliage and will result in fewer strong canes. Canes can be reduced to up to onehalf of their original height. This degree of pruning works well for most healthy roses. Heavy pruning is appropriate where there is significant damage from severe weather, or the bush is out of control. Heavy pruning, which reduces the bush significantly, produces fewer blooms because it taxes a bush to recuperate. However, this approach may produce larger flowers on longer stems. Regardless of the pruning approach used, always remove suckers or rootstock shoots that appear from below the basal break of the bush. These shoots tend to sap the strength of a bush. Once the pruning is completed, spray the bush with dormant oil spray and/or a fungal spray to prevent diseases. Clean up any clippings from the base of the plant. If you have planted bare-root roses, skip the first two seasons before pruning. This will allow the plant to establish itself, fill out and develop its natural shape. It will also let you observe the characteristics of the plant. It is particularly important for roses that bloom on old wood and not new growth. You can contact Lance Brilliantine with any questions or comments at GardenLance@yahoo.com.

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Dan's Papers Feb. 8, 2008  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

Dan's Papers Feb. 8, 2008  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

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