What happens if you don't prune?

flaurabunda(6a, Central IL)March 8, 2011

Just wondering......not that I'm planning on forgoing pruning later, but I have several canes starting to break dormancy with lots of bud eyes on several different roses. Many of them are healthy and green all the way to within 2 or 3 inches of the tip of the cane, and some of the canes are at least 5 feet long.

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I missed three bushes this spring When I DID get to them they were covered in buds. What I found happened is the dead leaves fell off and new ones grew in their place. They may get "leggy" and spindly later from what I have heard but in most cases it will not hurt a thing.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 3:41PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

The world will come to a violent end, in darkness and thunder . . .
Err -- NO. No it won't.
The un-pruned plants may get a little wild.
Eventually, you might want to cut off any dead bits, and growth that's in your way -- but honestly, no harm will be done.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 3:59PM
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seil zone 6b MI

Lol, I love your sense of humor, Jeri!

I'm one of those oddballs that doesn't believe in hacking my roses all down to six inches every spring whether they need it or not. I cut back to good clean pith only. On some that might be down to six inches but on a lot of them they start out at a couple of feet or more tall. You should cut out any dead wood or rubbing canes but otherwise you can really prune them or not to your own liking. Besides, they grow where and when THEY want to anyway!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 4:08PM
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flaurabunda(6a, Central IL)

Okey dokey, cool. I just couldn't see the need to hack off what appears to be really good canes that are going the exact direction I want. There are a few things that need clipping, here and there, but for the most part I was totally shocked at how much looks green and healthy, all the way up.

Renegade, on the other hand, appears to have died back to the ground.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 4:28PM
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karl_bapst_rosenut(5a, NW Indiana)

Keep in mind moderm repeat blooming roses bloom on new wood. Severe pruning produces new wood and larger blooms on longer stronger canes. Not pruning much will produce smaller blooms and more sprays on shorter and weaker stems.
I have several bushes, including some rugosas, that, although they appear to have little dieback, will be severely pruned as they're getting very large.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 11:21PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

But there, Karl -- Are you pruning them because the roses require it?
Or are you pruning them because they're in the way?

I went down the hill today, and I've concluded that 'Mme. Berkeley' really NEEDS to be "pruned." It's her, or me. She's 9 ft. tall and at least 7 ft. across, and I can't easily get by her. I'll prune her later in the year, but I really must curb her enthusiasm in the area where I must walk.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 11:34PM
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karl_bapst_rosenut(5a, NW Indiana)

I'm pruning for all those reasons plus a few of the older rugosas have bare legs and really older bad looking canes.
In my zone 5a, Nature dictates much of what gets removed. We cut off winter dieback and that doesn't leave much on many roses.
I'm ruthless when I cut back an older bush.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 11:55PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

There, I think, lies the difference between thy climate, and mine.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 12:01AM
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When a rose is in its first 3 years, I don't really prune, I shape. Anything dead or haggard gets removed and then I step back and 'see' what I want from the bush.

Once a rose goes beyond the 3 yr mark (or sooner if it is a house-eater) than I may prune back hard specific to what is best for the rose.

I think if you want to let your canes 'go' and have their blooms this spring, there is no rule that says you can't cut the cane off post-bloom if it looks bad. A lot of times when I let a cane go like this....I use those blooms for arrangements in the house. This method gets rid of a cane that needs pruning and provides roses to bring in. Win-Win!!!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 12:59PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

What and how the rose needs to be pruned (as opposed to how you want it to look) depends on the class of rose. Besides cleaning out dead wood, many kinds of roses do not need to be pruned at all.

I am making a tentative hypothesis re: the need for pruning and deer's preference. For instance, hybrid teas need severe pruning and those are also the ones deer like the best. Rugosas and Chinas require little pruning and the deer never bother them. Since pruning is a human adaption/adoption of what happens naturally, perhaps there is something to my theory.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 3:23PM
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flaurabunda(6a, Central IL)

That's an important point---age of the bush. All of mine are 3 years or younger. Last year I was pretty light handed when it came to deadheading because I wanted all the girls to get big and strong. As a result, I had very few long-stemmed roses on sturdy stems for cutting.

I'm just trying different methods on for size and seeing which I like best.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 3:35PM
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seil zone 6b MI

I think that's a great idea, Flaura! Observe them as they grow and mature and most likely they'll tell you how they need to be pruned. Don't be afraid to experiment. They're really very forgiving.

I do have to say that Karl is right, because I don't cut them all way back in the spring they can tend to get leggy by mid-summer. But Ronda is also right in saying that you can prune a little deeper to better shape them after the first bloom if necessary. It won't hurt them at all. I've done that many times. Any time you prune them it encourages new growth. Just Don't prune them real late in the season because that's when you don't want to encourage new growth. You want them to store that energy for spring. And besides any new growth that hasn't had time to harden off will not survive winter anyway.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 5:09PM
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My friend renovated a house from his mom (when she moved to Utah) and she had not pruned her HTs in about 10 years. Big ugly woody lower parts and thin weak wood above. I would guess that modern HTs in a no freeze climate need some amount of pruning to keep looking good.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 8:44PM
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Carrie_AZ(9/10 AZ)

I find that if I do not prune I do not get those nice big fat blooms. Pruning every year keeps my roses clean and free of the dead and spindly stuff, and they just look so much better. I went without pruning once for about 2 years because of some surgeries I had, the bloom's looked so small. When I recovered and was able to get back out into the garden, the first I thing I did when January came around was to prune. What a difference, the rose's were huge, that is when I learned how important it is to prune. So if you want those large fat blooms you see in the catalogs, prune. I hard prune, but I live in the desert and they grow back so fast here.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 8:59PM
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