Zone 6, 7 & 8-- must I strip the leaves?

lola-lemon(5b East WA)March 12, 2013

I am wondering if I need to keep up this horrible stripping process. I understand that folks in the hot climates need to force a kind of dormancy in to their roses and stripping leaves and pruning is part of the process-- but when we live in a cold enough climate that our roses are for sure going dormant due to cold--- do we need to strip the leaves?

I have several austins that are getting bigger and bigger and seem to make it through these mild winters with a lot of leaf and nearly all their cane to the tip. (lowest low was +14 this year).
So, about 60% of the leaves are still on the bush, but they look bad. Yellowey, spotted etc. Note: I've never had any BS to contend with in the summer--Never-- and I spray nothing. I may get a leaf or two in spring which I pop off, but that's it.

Anyway- the leaves on these Austins probably all have some frost damage- they are at best yellowy green.. (Whereas the HTs like Chrysler Imperial leaves are just dead and dry and gone!) So I was attempting to strip them all and got so frustrated I decided to just prune everything down to 18 to 24 inches instead.

Do you strip your roses?
If so, do you take all leaves- green as well as unhealthy looking?
Do you prune because you like them shorter or only for cane die back?
If you strip, do you have any advice? I feel like scissors was the fastest but I am about to try hair clippers.. anyone have any ideas?

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seil zone 6b MI

I don't strip in the fall at all. By spring most of them are gone. Then I prune first so that takes off even more. What's left I do pull off. I don't know that it's mandatory but it does make them look neater.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 6:27PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I feel your pain, but I think you'll be happier in the long run if you remove the leaves. I've tried to get away with not doing it, but the old leaves ruin the look of a bush with nice new growth on it. This year I was lucky and most of my roses have lost their leaves. But there are some that have leaves left and I plan on removing them when I prune.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 7:08PM
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AquaEyes 7a New Jersey

I don't know if it was ever necessary, but during spring-cleanup in my garden on Long Island, I'd end up snipping off the leaves that hung on through the winter before the new ones emerged. I thought of it mostly as a "neatening-up" thing, and thought that any fungus that hung onto the old leaves would just reinfect the new ones, so I took them off.

But I think when most people refer to "leaf-stripping" it's in late autumn, to induce dormancy. I've never done that.

I'm starting a new garden in NJ (happy to be back in zone 7 after living in Buffalo for three years!), and about a month ago, I snipped off the leaves of the six roses I grew from bands last spring in their 2gallon pots, which spent the winter on my porch. Some looked like they'd eventually fall off on their own, as they have been gradually since December, but I started seeing new leaf buds swelling, and didn't want a hodgepodge of old and new together. Again, for me, it was just a "neatening-up" thing.



    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 7:12PM
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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Ditto what Aqua said.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 7:38PM
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Campanula UK Z8

Nothing to do with dormancy for me but everything to do with spread of disease. Normally, leaves are gone by the end of an english winter but not so last year. Ignoring the old leaves on Zephirine Drouhin (a miffy rose, I admit, but normally bearable), caused a horror show of non-blooming, mildew-ridden, sickly and hideous nastiness. I have been scrabbling about the arbour, this year, wielding my snappers, to remove every sodding leaf. A hateful job but necessary, I feel.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 8:34PM
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Paul Zimmerman had an interesting post on this subject late last fall.

Here is a link that might be useful: Paul Zimmerman's blog

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 10:41PM
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Same as Aqua. I have lots of hangers on in the sodden mess that is march. Hate the look them.....wish they would blow off, buzz off, get lost, scram! Easier than picking 80 bushes clean!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 12:21AM
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nanadollZ7 SWIdaho(Zone 7 Boise SW Idaho)

Good grief, there is no way I am going to put myself through stripping the leaves off plants. By the time I have finished pruning my roses, the leaves are gone. We have lots of wind in spring, and they don't remain on the ground for long, either. No fungal diseases to worry about, so I can't think of a good reason for doing this time consuming task. I have a lot more fun things to do like dumping manure all over the beds, or digging large holes-heheh. Diane

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 3:11AM
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AquaEyes 7a New Jersey

I understand that for many, the task of removing old leaves before Spring seems daunting (and considering the size of your gardens, that would be). But for me, tedious and repetitive activities are rather mentally-soothing, and part of the reason I enjoy gardening (just a quirk of my strange aspie-like brain).

So please realize that if I said I meticulously removed every leaf from last season on every rose in the garden (right now only 6, but in my previous garden about 20, and here next year it will be 70), it is a reporting of my own actions but not advising that everyone should do it. I think if your average person did things the way I do, (s)he'd go nuts.



    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 2:04PM
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poorbutroserich(Nashville 7a)

Christopher, if we weren't nuts we wouldn't be discussing stripping rose leaves! Heh.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 6:35PM
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seil zone 6b MI

Oh no, Christopher, I totally agree with you. That's the best thing about my garden. It's very soothing to be out there working and doing sort of mindless tasks. I get to dream about all kinds of things while doing my chores. The more mundane the better!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 7:15PM
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