when to prune in southern ca

bbiancaNovember 11, 2013

when is the time to prune my roses in southern ca?

I bought a house with very large mature bushes, scentimental, hot cocoa, memorial day, French lace, they have not been pruned thoroughly for years.do I hack them down to nothing or no?

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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

January is the usual recommendation. If you really want to do it now you could go ahead now, then early next summer give them another, lighter pruning and the following year prune in January. I've pruned mine at all times of the year without a problem.

You don't have to cut them back hard. I would not go lower than 30" at the most extreme. This is because when you cut off canes (stems) you are cutting off stored energy--cutting to ankle height means a long slow possibly painful recovery. It's better to cut moderately twice a year (January and August) rather than once a year extremely.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 3:28PM
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I will do as advised. thank you so much.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 6:24PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Not knowing exactly WHERE in SoCal you are located, let me expand that a little.

I am very near the Ventura County coast, under ocean influence, with (most years) no chill hours. WE can safely prune anywhere between Thanksgiving and Valentines Day. And when we were actually pruning as many as 300 roses, we sometimes took that long to do it.

By contrast, friends up in the Ojai Valley didn't START pruning until early February.

So, like Real Estate and Politics -- these decisions can be very local.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 8:14PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I think the main reason for trying to time the pruning is to avoid Rust on the new foliage. A good rainy season brings a great Rust season, so I try to work with that--delaying longer so as to delay the new foliage longer so as to reduce the Rust.

But it is tricky to do that--hard to get the timing right.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 7:48PM
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ArbutusOmnedo 10/24

I was going to ask a similar question. I have planted quite a few roses in the past year (from potted up bands to a 15 gallon climber) and was wondering whether those planted this year needed any pruning at all. Do new roses, especially the smaller shrubs, need any serious pruning in their first year in the ground here in So Cal? I could see pruning the climbers, as some have really done their thing.

I assume I should NOT prune the Teas I have planted at all. These are all from ARE, just about fully leafed out, and in the ground. I mentioned to the "mow and blow" guys at my Mom's house (where the serious planting has really taken place) to not worry about pruning the roses.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 10:39PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

No. They really don't. In fact, most roses in Southern California can do just fine without annual pruning. Even when they are more mature, pruning is for the most part done to reduce size, or shape the plant -- and if you don't need THAT, you can do just fine doing nothing other than removal of dead or damaged canes.

And yes. Newly planted Tea Roses probably won't need pruning for their first few years. Typically, they grow low and "spready" in their first years. As they mature, and produce heftier canes, they begin to grow upward.

See below two Tea Roses. The nearest one, "Jesse Hildreth," is an own-root plant grown from a collected cutting. It was planted a couple of years ago, from a 1-G. It's still low and spready.

The pink rose beyond it is 'Mme. Lombard,' grown from a cutting collected in Fall, 2005. It's been in the ground now for about 5 years, and it's maturing nicely.

There is no need for us to prune either of these roses, but we do deadhead them as needed.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 12:23PM
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How you prune depends on how you want your roses to look. Here in SoCal if you don't prune they will get leggy and woody and unattractive IMO. Maybe this will happen even if you do prune. Many of my 46 HT's in the ground only since February are 6-8 feet tall and huge so something has to be done. I have deadheaded aggressively but not really pruned so I'm thinking that pruning back to about three feet will be necessary even though they will look terrible. Back in CT this was routine but they looked awful anyway having come through the winter. Also, I'm concerned that very few basals are being produced even though the grafts are buried and kept moist. Back in CT every year produced prolific new growth either from basals from the graft or own roots. Here that is not happening.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 4:56PM
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What is that beautiful black and white rose?


    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 6:54PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

Andrea -- That is R. Tika. :-)
She's a Long-Haired Dalmatian.

Henry -- In mild Southern California, we do not bury the grafts. They are above-ground. Really. :-)

I did generally speaking bury the grafts when dealing with roses budded onto multiflora, which does not flourish here. Eventually, most of those roses transitioned to own-root -- so I would expect that if you have buried the bud union, that will be the eventual outcome.

Remember -- I said that one reason for pruning roses in Southern California was to make them smaller. I do understand that.

If, OTOH, you have a rose that you LIKE to see large, and which looks attractive that way, pruning it down is really not necessary.

It's your choice.

The rose will be quite happy if it's not pruned at all. In fact, some roses are healthier and more vigorous when allowed to carry more canes. You are pruning it, not because it NEEDS pruning for its health -- rather, you are pruning it for your convenience.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 8:32PM
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Jeri, my main concern is appearance plus I don't want to have to look up in the sky to see the roses. Also, I'm curious about basals. With the graft above ground do you get basals? I see a lot of roses (not mine) that are woody trees with only top growth.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 1:15AM
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Henry, my experience with growing roses in this area for the past three decades is you get more basals from bud unions above ground than you do from buried ones. Burying the bud union in this area too frequently leads to geriatric plants with few to no basals. Uncover those unions for best results. In the old Newhall garden, which contained over twelve-hundred plants, and had over fifteen-hundred pass through in its eighteen years of existence, the "one cane wonders" frequently resulted from bud unions which became buried and were accidentally left that way. Kim

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 7:41AM
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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

I just want to add a slight caveat to Jeri's statement that many roses don't need pruning, especially the tea roses. That is certainly true when they're young and need to build up their structure to bloom and prosper. I found by accident, while pruning two tea roses simply to keep them from growing messily into each other, that hacking them back in a rather haphazard fashion actually made them quite happy. Where for some time neither rose had bloomed much, they began to almost immediately put out new growth and then buds. Having said that, I have to add that what is true for my warm and dry garden may not be the case somewhere else. Experimentation, accidental or otherwise, is really the best way that I've found to understand what my roses need.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 12:04PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

You're right on target, Ingrid. I don't think you'd have the same results in a coastal climate.

Henry, one of my husband's expressed objections to Hybrid Tea Roses was that they were, in his opinion " . . . ugly plants with bare bottoms."

In my conditions, to be honest, I'd say the same about many Hybrid Perpetuals.


    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 4:23PM
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I previously pruned roses in January as usual, but with this years higher than normal heat waves, I'm wondering if the roses are dormant yet. I see a lot of growth and even flowers. Is waiting until February out of the question. I have been told in the past that sudden temperature changes can cause blind shoots. I see quite a lot of shoots that suddenly just quit growing. These hot days are confusing the plants and gardeners. Any thoughts out there?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 1:29AM
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