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8A help for fall

Posted by charleney 8a PNW (My Page) on
Wed, Oct 9, 13 at 14:46

Need advice on pruning for fall on neglected for 2 yr. Roses of course. I have had a health issue, and am now ready to do my prune back for fall. Hired weeding help and that is not an issue. Tell me how and how much to cut back. Have climbers, austins, and a few hybrid teas. The poor roses still bloomed through it all, but now ready to take charge again. Thank You, so much!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: 8A help for fall

Welcome back and congratulations on feeling better.

I am a long ways off, but I wonder if you should be pruning in the fall at all, other than tidying up neglected plants. You can expect winter damage to new growth in zone 8a. So I hope some PNW folks will chime in.

Californians prune in fall because winter is prime growing weather in zones 9-10. Eastern zone 8 growers prune in February after the coldest weather is past.

RE: 8A help for fall

I do a prune in autumn (with caveats), Michael, because my thin sandy soil and open windy allotment is a definite candidate for losses from root-rock. I usually get in around early November (and if the leaves are looking really rough, I have them off too. Maybe, if it is a warm autumn, there might be a bit of vulnerable late growth, leaving an opening for die-back but this is rare and never that bad - our winters are damp rather than bitter - and is easily dealt with in spring.
Timing is only part of deciding what, why or when because I have some I never prune, some I do several times a year.
For the record, anything that has stiff canes (such as Meg) gets a severe autumn chop, taking the oldest, thickest canes back by as much as half.....while those that have a whippy growth habit (are generally just tied in and trimmed). It is fair to say that quite a few of them have already had a fairly short haircut way back in July/August, specially the once flowering types which block my (tiny) paths (Goldfinch).
Sounds like you are keen to have a bit of therapeutic garden fun, Charleney - glad you are back on your feet - take it easy though.

RE: 8A help for fall

Thanks! I see two members that I know and trust. Taking out those big ol' stiff canes seems like good advice. Garden therapy is right. Gardeners that just can't bear lookin out the window..that has been me. Anyone else who wants to chime in, is sure welcome.

RE: 8A help for fall


Zone 9a. We receive winter chill, but not as cold as the PNW. Our chill really arrives late December and it is coldest during January. We prune our roses anywhere from late December, thru the end of January. Pruning includes removing dead wood, crossing branches and taking off about 1/2 of the height on a mature modern rose. Climbers are just cleaned up ( removing dead wood, crossed canes etc.).


This post was edited by desertgarden561 on Wed, Oct 9, 13 at 19:22

RE: 8A help for fall

Modern roses store their nutrients in their canes, so the only fall pruning required is to protect the rose from wind-rock and/or the possibility of cane breakage due to the weight of winter snow. (In colder zones, roses may have to be pruned to fit winter protection needs.)

If you prune modern roses in fall, while there are still months of winter weather to come, you are, in a sense, taking away the food the plant needs to get through winter and push into spring.

When I lived in southern California, it was standard procedure to follow the advice Lynn has given above in her post, but in a more northerly latitude and colder zone, fall pruning actually can set the plant back. Of course, it depends on the rose.

I live in the northern California mountains, and am still at a more southerly latitude than yours and only snow-tip my roses to avoid breakage in fall. I don't have wind issues in this garden. I prune my modern roses in spring when the forsythia blooms.


RE: 8A help for fall

hi, Charleney,
I live in the central Puget Sound area and have been here for about 4 years now. I am glad you are feeling better and want to garden.

Like everything else, there is a lot of different advice given on fall pruning that I've read. The Olympic Rose Society recommends cutting back moderns 1/3 about Thanksgiving, but they are a tad bit colder and probably windier than Seattle. I think Olympia is 7b. Other regional ARS groups (Seattle and Tacoma) only mention spring pruning that I've seen. What I come away with from the different opinions is that if you prune your roses now you won't kill them. Likewise, If you don't prune your roses now, you won't lose anything.

Practically speaking, what Lyn mentions, is also what I've read. The leaves transfer their stored sugars into the canes before they drop so if you cut back too much too soon into the moderns, you can possibly cut into their energy reservoir. My leaves (prob zone 8a) haven't ever fully dropped, though, so I am not sure that the transfer is taking place completely. I expect your leaves don't fully drop, either.

But to be safe, what I would do is cut out the dead wood and do some light trimming of thin canes or ones that are going to whip around in the wind and then wait until February or so. You won't hurt anything by waiting and we really might have a very cold winter, in which case the roses might actually need what's in the canes.

Just another opinion! Gean

RE: 8A help for fall

Gean ...

Good to see you posting !

I usually have to wait until the end of March or early April before I can begin to prune. However, my 8a zone is located at a higher elevation than yours and I think we have winter temps longer than you do in your garden.

You are correct in that a modern rose pruned at the wrong time will survive. Mrs. J's roses were deer-pruned for three years before I got them caged. My deer just pruned whenever they wanted to feed on the rose and did not prune correctly. The roses lived in spite of them.


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