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Newbie Question: Should I prune them now?

Posted by WombatEd 10b (My Page) on
Wed, Mar 20, 13 at 23:42

I've recently acquired a house with about 20 rose bushes (Hybrid Teas and Grandifloras, I think).

I'm in So. Cal. where apparently waiting for "winter dormant season" is like waiting for a stop sign to turn green.

So they weren't pruned when they should have been, and I'm wondering if they'll be healthier if I try to prune them now. Or should I wait until next "winter".

Thanks in advance.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Newbie Question: Should I prune them now?

"Like waiting for a stop sign to turn green", that is hysterical, Ed! You hit it right on the head! Where in SoCal are you? If you're more desert type climate, I might suggest waiting. If you're more savannah type (San Fernando Valley, perhaps a milder area of the Santa Clarita Valley, etc.) pruning now isn't a death sentence for them. The biggest issue is providing the canes protection from long periods of direct, hot sun. Our sun intensity can absolutely scald a bare section of cane in relatively short order. Once the cambium layer under that bark is cooked, it is dead and will not regenerate. That sun burn attracts Flat Headed Apple Borers which CAN kill the rose (and other plants it attacks).

It also depends upon whether you're talking about a gentle thinning of the plant or a major attack. If you can generally shape them, remove what is blocking access to walks, windows, etc., keep them from bending double in high winds, without leaving the plant bare of foliage, sure go for it. If you're in the extreme areas, do as little as possible, or shine it until we finally hit "winter". Usually, in most of our areas, that pruning is safest accomplished between November and February, but you have to do what you have to do, and that has to be done when it NEEDS doing. Kim

RE: Newbie Question: Should I prune them now?

Thanks, Kim.

I'm in Torrance, where it doesn't get terribly hot, and I usually get a SMALL bit of a sea breeze and overcast. The sun isn't all that intense this week, but we've already had a couple of mild hot spells.

My main concern is the health of the plants - I can wait 'til next "winter" to make 'em pretty, if that's the healthiest option.

As a newbie, I see all this literature about when an how to prune, but not much about what is done for the health of the plant vs. what is done for aesthetic reasons.

I read about stripping leaves to force dormancy, but I gather that should be done in January, not March.

I do need to cut back a bit, they're encroaching the public sidewalks.

RE: Newbie Question: Should I prune them now?

You're welcome Ed. And, welcome! Torrance is mild enough for you to be able to prune what's needed and not have major issues. I'd go lightly, not removing more than about a third of the foliage and cane mass until you get to know the individual plants and how they respond. Some explode right back into growth after pruning. Others begrudgingly offer a few measly inches. Once you know what their responses will be, you know how to attack them. For growth encroaching upon the walks and doors, that falls into the "you do what you have to do" area. Public (and YOUR) safety take precedence. A good friend lives just down the hill from South Coast Botanical and she has just finished her pruning, so your timing isn't far off. I'll be at her home helping her plant her pot ghetto this weekend. Kim

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