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Winter 2004
John Cushnie On...

16th March 2009

The very best day to prune your roses is St. Patrickís Day Ė17 March. You donít have to be Irish but some of the luck may rub off. There is a lot of conflicting advice about when to prune and climate change would suggest that we should prune earlier. Donít listen to a word of it. There was little evidence of warmer weather for the most of February with freezing temperatures lower than for a decade.

The trouble is that when you prune a rose the plant responds by pushing all its energy into the remaining growth buds and they expand and open early. If you prune early then a single nightís frost can do enormous damage in two ways to the unprotected buds.

If they become frosted with burnt young foliage then the plantís growth will be set back by weeks. If the bud has started to expand but is still closed then where there is a drop of water lodged between the bud and the stem that freezes during the night the water will expand and push the bud off. Either way the first flush of flowers will be late. By the time Irelandís saintís day comes around the worst of the harsh weather is over and growth can start in earnest.

Pruning Tips For Bush Roses
Remove all stems thinner than a No.5 knitting needle.
Remove all shoots growing into the centre of the bush.
Remove any diseased stems especially those with black or purple blotches.
Prune to an outward pointing with a sloping cut immediately above the bud. Remember that the shoot will grow in the direction the bud is pointing. Remove any suckers pulling them (rather than cutting them) off the rootstock or the root.
Burn all diseased shoots.
With the pruning finished encourage the rose with a 10 cm deep mulch of old, well rotted farmyard manure and a handful of rose fertilizer per plant.


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