Grow: Primers & Projects
A few simple steps for a healthy and beautifully sculpted rose bush
Whether yours has gotten completely out of control (like Michael's had) or could just do with a trim, here are a few simple steps from pruning expert Ed Palmer on cutting back that rose bush.
All you need for the job are the basics: a pair of gloves to protect you from the thorns, and a pair of bypass pruners. To get started, the first thing to do is to examine the bush to ascertain what has survived the winter and then to get rid of all the dead wood.
As Ed told Michael on air, the easiest way to go about pruning is to make all the obvious cuts first - that basically includes dead, diseased, broken or split branches. If you're not used to judging the difference between live and dead branches, all you have to do is make a little scratch on the branch with your pruners. If you see the wood is green on the inside, it's alive. If it's brown, the branch is dead and you can prune it away. To do that, cut it as far back as possible, at least to where it joins with live branches.
Once you have removed all the dead wood, you can step back and see what's left for you to work with to trim and shape the bush. The thin, spindly branches will not produce the larger, more desirable rose flowers, so you want to remove most of these, especially toward the base where they're mixed among the larger, hardier branches. When pruning a branch, make a tapered diagonal cut about 1/4-inch above a bud. The bigger branches that you want to save, cut back harder, leaving some thinner branches at the top and around the periphery to "feather out" the shape of the bush. Ed recommends that you always strive to imitate nature, which will help give the plant a more beautiful, pleasing quality.
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This segment appears in show #2704.