Roses, To prune or not?

derby98January 5, 2012

This winter has been very mild in our parts, Daytime temps averaging 65 degrees, nighttime 33-42 degrees with the odd frosty night.

My roses (Hybrid Teas, Floribundas & carpets roses) have not shed any of there leaves this year, in fact many are still in bloom due to the warm weather. Many are showing new growth!

I have not pruned any of them yet, I usually do so around Christmas.

Shall I prune anyway regardless of whether or not they plant is dormant or should I wait for colder weather to come along?

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seil zone 6b MI

Boy, Derby, that's a tough question. I guess if you'd normally have already pruned by now then I'd go ahead and do it right away. You don't want them to put out a ton of new growth and then have to prune it all off and make them start over. Better to catch them just starting out.

I'm 2 zones colder than you and a lot of my roses never dropped their leaves either. I did do all my winter protection and I'm glad I did because they're getting no snow cover at all so my leaf mulch is it for them. Temps are wildly swinging up and down and that's just the worst thing for my roses here. I'd rather it just get cold and stay cold than this yo-yo freeze and thaw stuff.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 8:28PM
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Derby, I'm in Encino, the San Fernando Valley and have had many days between high seventies and mid eighties so far this winter. I also tend roses in the next valley north where it's also warm, but not quite as hot as we've been the past month. I'm already pruning those which are going to take me longer. I figure we're likely to have a mild, dry winter this year based upon what we've already seen. I also figure even if it turns out to be a colder, wetter winter, at least here, it's not going to be cold enough to hurt any of the roses. The chances of them getting too large and needing the clean up are too great for me to wait and see. So, I'm taking off what I wanted to anyway, to bring some of these things down into where I want them. Like the 7' tall Linda Campbell which really should be brought more to the 4' range where it grows and easily 6' off the Penelope I've allowed to take over the end of a bed in front. I've already removed nearly 6' off the Lordly Oberon on the rear wall and nearly that much from all the Sally Holmes in back. Like you, I've already seen much new growth and nothing has stopped flowering yet. Kim

    Bookmark   January 5, 2012 at 8:47PM
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Hello Everyone!

I live in the south bay of southern california and I have the same problem with my roses. The winter days get too hot and the roses think its spring and time to create new growth. I planted my roses bushes all along the front of the house the first year we bought the house and I made it a tradition to take two days off every January so I would have a four day weekend to prune and fertilize my roses. New growth or not. It serves them better in the long run. It keeps them on the proper growth schedule according to the seasons.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2012 at 1:10PM
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reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

Prune your roses at your regular time. It's a myth that roses go dormant. Modern, repeat-blooming roses never go dormant. In cold winter areas they slow down in winter just because it's too cold to grow, or in my area because it's too dark to grow, but they're never truly dormant.

My roses most all still have some green leaves on them. I just returned from a trip to the SF Bay Area and many roses there are still blooming, half-heartedly but blooming. When I lived there I pruned in mid January. They always still had some flowers on them at that time, and immediately threw out new growth. Here in WA I prune in mid March. It's more a matter of when it will be warm enough in spring for normal growth to resume, and you prune a few weeks before that. Although where you won't get damaging frosts in spring (that's you) it doesn't really matter when you prune. I knew people in the Bay Area who pruned at Xmas because that's when they had time. A lot of people here prune at Prez Day because that's when Portland and Seattle prune, even though we're colder than both cities where I am. They still do ok.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2012 at 12:43PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I have pruned early, I have pruned late,
I have pruned alone, or with a mate,
Late or early, it's never fatal,
Roses here always begin to bloom

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 11:55AM
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I agree with hoovb - we frequently think that we have more control over what roses do than we really do (except really damaging hard pruning can, of course, kill some OGRs), so obsessing over how exactly to do something is usually irrelevant.

The oldest roses in my garden, several of which are or were 90+ years old, were not pruned AT ALL for 30-40 years, and I have come to the conclusion that that might be why they lived and thrived for so long. Roses are not pruned in the wild, except by deer. You are not really necessary for them, unless you are growing them in climates where they would not usually survive at all and need extraordinary intervention (half digging them up and burying them in Winter, for example).

In the last few years, there were years when I did not get around to pruning my 100+ roses at all, for various reasons. The first time this happened, I was convinced that they would all just decline and die. To my amazement, Spring came, and they all bloomed as usual, and many of them were happier and healthier than before. Relax - it is our egos that tell us that we are the arbiters of their fates - the roses have other ideas.


    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 12:24PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

But remember always (and yes, most of you know this) that once-blooming roses should not be pruned at this time.

For you SoCal folks, that means your Lady Banks roses, or Fortuniana, and only a few others. Wait to prune those until after the big spring flush has finished.

Also, if you are growing Tea Roses (the OLD roses, you understand, NOT Hybrid Tea Roses) or China Roses -- those really are best pruned in the hottest part of summer, when they naturally go semi-dormant -- NOT now, when they are blooming ecstatically.

Jeri (who isn't pruning much right now, other than Shrubs and Austins and so forth)

    Bookmark   January 9, 2012 at 12:27PM
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