Deadheading and Pruning Edward Scissorhands Style

harmonypMay 13, 2012

Campanula made a comment in a drift vs. carpet rose thread lately that turned on a huge lightbulb for me. As I have finally gotten to what I consider my rose limit - around 85 (I have NO CLUE how you guys with hundreds do it!) - I've been thinking - how in the heck do I keep everything deadheaded and pruned in a timely manner? Especially the deadheading which I like doing constantly to keep my repeat going.

Campanula mentioned using topiary sheers for her carpet rose. I had never heard of topiary sheers, but have since looked them up and have to buy a set. But, I pulled out my hedge trimming sheers - much clumsier for roses, but they sure make fast work of it - and started chopping away. Just lightly on top for the deadheading, then as deep as I want for the less frequent pruning. WOW. I can deadhead the entire place in about 20 minutes. Not as delicate a procedure as doing them by hand, and pruning isn't at the exact place on each cane as I'd prefer, but it sure does do the job.Versus pinching off about 1000 dead blooms by hand - that became completely out of the question.

Not only is it fast, but it is quite fun! Topiary sheers next!

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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

And here I thought I was getting smart buying the 3 pack of scissors on sale at Costco.....

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 12:42AM
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rosetom(7 Atl)

I think most people cheat when they say they have roses that number in the hundreds. ;-) From the ones I've seen personally with that many, most are 1-cane wonders in pots.

You're correct - 85 in-the-ground multi-cane roses is plenty enough. I haven't tried powered hedge trimmers, but my post-spring-flush deadheading/pruning took several days this year. Maybe I need to re-consider. ;-)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 9:18AM
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kentucky_rose zone 6

I have 126 and about 50 are mini/minifloras. This year I've started snapping the blooms of the mini/minifloras off with my fingers, unless I'm cutting for indoors. Sealing the canes with Elmer's wood interior/exterior glue is what takes me so long. If I don't, the bushes get lots of cane borers. Then I spend the time cutting them out and have less healthy rose bush.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 10:31AM
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Campanula UK Z8

The first time I saw my local council gardeners 'pruning' the dozens of Bonica and Sommerwind planted, I almost fainted - they simply lopped the top third of the roses with petrol-powered hedgetrimmers. True, the bushes looked a little weird (very flat-topped) for a week or so but their recovery rates were astonishing (they do this in the summer, as well as spring). The most important thing, they told me, was to make sure that blades are sharp so that a clean cut and not a ragged tear is made. So yes, sharp scissors, shears and even, in extremis, grass edging loppers have all been used by me to no deleterious effect.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 11:37AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

I've been using manual hedge shears to deadhead large shrub and climbing roses for a long, long time. There is no harm in leaving random-length stubs; roses know how to deal with that. For HT and similar, I just pop off the spent flowers and drop them on the mulch. When they start getting too tall, I clip the stems back a foot or two when deadheading. Then I do cut above a leaf, because it's no extra trouble.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 11:47AM
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mike_rivers(z5 MI)

The Royal National Rose Society did a famous test a few years back, comparing standard, painstaking, pruning to more or less mindless slaughter with petrol-powered hedgetrimmers and shears. Guess which way gave superior growth and more blossoms? (See the report at Paul Barden's Site, linked below).

Here is a link that might be useful: Royal Rose Society Test

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 12:41PM
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rosetom(7 Atl)

Yep - I have a rose book from the UK that says the same thing. Trouble is, the book also expressed the opinion that the variegated leaves from RMV is "an interesting effect" and that you should "give the rose extra fertilizer."

I have a gas-powered Echo hedge trimmer and have used it quite often (but not on roses). As nice as it is, it doesn't always make the cleanest of cuts and often snaps stems down the middle. I worry about doing that to a rose and introducing multiple sites for canker and worse.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 3:29PM
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Campanula UK Z8

I also think much depends on the size and type of rose - I can whack mine about because they tend to be unruly ramblers, hybrid musks or species with lots of small blooms, twiggy canes and plentiful smallish leaves - I suspect I would be a bit more circumspect if I was growing a hybrid tea,an Austin or a more refined rose than most of mine with larger blooms.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 5:43PM
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I have a 90 foot by 6 foot area out by the street that is really one bed, just interrupted by the driveway and two paths. I have various 3 ft tall bush roses along there, and I "prune" them every year with an electric hedge clipper. It is attached to a LONG cord that is plugged into an outlet in our basement.....the roses respond great. The only problem has occasionally been the operator of the hedge clippers - after I cut the electric cord twice one year, my husband took over the pruning....


    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 9:13PM
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I have found that no pruning works also.

Barbara, whose time is limited and energy is not boundless.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 11:39AM
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flaurabunda(6a, Central IL)

It depends upon the rose, honestly. Some of them don't care where I make the cut, others are fussy and if it's not made exactly above an emerging bud eye, the cane goes blind. I agree that several of the minis & minifloras require nothing at all except pinching off dried up blooms.

Shrub roses, my lone alba and most of the floribundas seem to be the most forgiving, while the HT's and Grandifloras appear to be a bit more particular.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 11:56AM
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catsrose(VA 6)

Lots of roses do not need pruning, except for taking out dead wood. As Michael said, Hybrid Teas, Austins and some of the Tea are the only ones that need personalized attention. Many can be sheered to shape. I have a friend who has about 30 hybrid teas and she spends more time attending those 30 than I do on all 450 of mine--none of which are in pots.

We learned to prune by watching the results of bunnies, deer, donkeys, etc munching on plants. They certainly don't fuss about it.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 11:30PM
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