whacking back, watering, fertilizer

poorbutroserich(Nashville 7a)August 5, 2014

Hello! My modern HT cutting beds look TERRIBLE. Obviously I know now why folks sprayed or didn't grow roses. Geez�.Anyway�.
Most of these were new bare roots this spring. There is quite a bit of cane death and dead wood in most of them.
My question is:
Would it be okay to cut out any and all dead wood/canes and then cut the bush back to 4 ft or so (some of them are near 8 ft) and then liquid fertilize and keep well watered?
I'd like to have some pretty autumn blooms and most of these are blooming well but they are just sickly�.
Also, I bought some Austins for $10 that have tall hard canes with new growth coming out of the 1/4 of the cane. Can I whack these back?

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It's always permissible and recommended to remove already dead wood, Susan. If the bushes are too tall for the space, or you aren't looking forward to having to view the blooms from the house roof, then you pretty much have to prune them. The Austin question may well depend upon which one you bought. I will leave that to others who grow more of them and are closer to you. I've personally given up on them as a group for my desires and climate. Traditionally, as long as there isn't a lot of dead growth and/or the plant isn't just too ginormous for the space, I don't recommend whacking them back. There is a lot of stored nutrition in the green wood those plants are going to want to make use of. BUT, sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do. Know what I mean?

If the plants aren't over grown for the space and any new growth putting out flowers won't be too thin to support them, I wouldn't whack back green, living, undamaged growth. But that is honestly judged on a case by case basis. It pretty much depends upon what the condition of the growth is and how well the plant fits its site. I hope something here helps. Kim

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 1:40PM
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jim1961 Zone 6a Central Pa.

Dead wood is just that dead... So it can be cut out anytime...
I agree with everything Roseseek said...But if they are out growing there space then sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do on cutting them back.
Or you could move them to another area with more space or replace them with shorter plants...

I try to give any plant here enough room to grow so they do not need cut back...

This post was edited by jim1961 on Tue, Aug 5, 14 at 15:00

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 2:23PM
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Where I've lived (hot), a lot of rose growers forgo the traditional early spring/ late winter prunning. (It never made much sense to me, as it typically removed healthy new growth).

But on bushes that need it, they trim in late Aug/early Sept, re-mulch the heck out of the beds, give a LIGHT feeding, with lots of water & wait for the fall blooms of Sept/Oct, often the best of the year.

I'm not big on pruning anyway, but I'd be especially cautious with new young plants--they're working on adjusting to being planted & are already stressed out this time of year. I'd probably take out the dead wood, mulch well & keep watered. I'd wait until the end of Aug. to prune healthy canes this year (if at all, & I'd be inclined to not touch them this year).

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 2:38PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

If you have HTs 8' tall, I think you could cut them back to 4'. HTs have upright growth that can break over in a thunderstorm or with icing. The blooms come at the top and you need to be able to reach them (and see them). I try to keep my HTs to 6-7' by late season, so I start them at 2-3' and start deadheading long stems as they approach the limit.

Also, with vigorous shrubs, when climber-like canes appear in summer, after blooming I cut them about in half or a bit shorter than the average height of the shrub.

If some of your plants are young and have few but long canes, I tend to let them go so the plant can add strength--talkin bout vigorous varieties in their first year. Some good gardeners would cut them back halfway in order to start the plant branching.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 3:37PM
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poorbutroserich(Nashville 7a)

Excellent well thought advice you all! Thanks so much. I think my urge was more homicidal than anything. *evil grin*
I keep buying notoriously unhealthy "classic" HTs and thinking they are going to be healthy in my no spray garden (because it is MY garden) and that's just stinkin thinkin!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 6:37PM
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Most years I can't resist a body bag or two. And most summers are when they croak...

Still, you get some good ones--added a nice Sunsprite, Kordes Perfecta & First Prize this time & those are looking okay.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 9:13PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

When we have difficult years, we simply must be patient.
The disadvantage to taking out dead wood is that sometimes it is surprising to see what it is supporting. Time and again, I have cut out something obviously dead, and have discovered that a major branch has been counting on that for support.

Also, I have often made that cut, and have not been able to remove the dead cane without scratching or hurting another branch.

I also do not spray -- not ever. I do use ant baits, but never any type of spray. This limits what I can grow. As you have discussed many roses, I have observed that they will not grow in my garden. So you must not be too hard on yourself if they will not grow for you. We lived in Nashville for 8 years, and I think our weather is very similar.

Many people who do not like to spray order from Antique Rose Emporium or Chamblees. Antique Rose Emporium never sprays, and promotes roses that do not require spray. I think Chamblees also promotes no spray roses, but they have a good supply of Buck roses that need spray in our climate.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 5:45AM
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mzstitch(Zone 7b South Carolina)

I love Sammy's statement : "When we have difficult years, we simply must be patient". This has definitly been one of the most difficult years for me, and I'm just trying to be patient. I've trimmed out dead wood that I can reach, but on some of my larger roses I am just leaving it for winter to trim back. It's not that I'm afraid of hurting the rose more than I am hurting me as its thorns could scrape me up good trying to do this! Because some of these roses had a tough winter and spring I'm letting them do what they want to do rather than alot of pruning to keep them tidy. In the past I have done an all over pruning on some to keep them from taking over the yard, but this year because I had to remove so many canes early on I'm just letting the rose capture as much energy as it can by leaving the canes alone. So I think you need to make the decision as to whether you may be taking too much off your HTs based on how many canes you have to remove that are dead. This just may be the year for you too to be patient from overall pruning down and just remove what is dead that you can safely remove.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 7:50AM
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Hey Susan,
ItâÂÂs been a terrible year for fungal issues here. Canker this spring was worse than I can ever remember, and IâÂÂm still seeing some delayed cane death from it. Blackspot seems much worse than the last few years, too. I do spray about once a month when fungal issues are at their peak, and thatâÂÂs normally enough to keep mine fairly healthyâ¦but not this year. IâÂÂm not willing to spray more frequently, so things are just looking bad right now. With the weather up and down so much, we havenâÂÂt had consistently high enough night temps to kill off the blackspot yet. As far as pruning, I usually just deadhead hard this time of yearâ¦taking 6 to 8 inches off when I remove old blooms (10 to 12 inches on monster bushes). I did cut a couple of roses way back about a month ago and removed a lot of diseased canes. Those roses were really struggling from all the fungal issues running rampant here, but have come back strong from their pruning and thinning. They were mature bushes, though, so not sure how young ones would react to severe pruning this time of year. Hoping yours will bounce back beautifully! Try not to judge them too harshly based on this yearâÂÂs performance since disease pressure seems abnormally high. HTs grown no spray here are going to have some blackspot, but some will do much better than others. With time, you will know which ones can perform at an acceptable level for you.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 11:20AM
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poorbutroserich(Nashville 7a)

Thanks again you all for the wise and gentle advice. I ended up pruning only dead wood and crossing canes. Gemini has not produced a bloom yet. Neither has Velvet Fragrance. Dolly Parton has put out two. Beverly has put out two.
In contrast, Pat Austin is a blooming MACHINE! I love this rose. And Charlotte, Grace and Tamora are not too far behind herâ¦.but far and above, Pat Austin is just a beautiful bush with beautiful flowers.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 7:23PM
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