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Pruning Golden Showers, Don Juan, Zepherin Drouhin & Mr. Lincoln

Posted by kelly922 NJ zone 6b (My Page) on
Fri, Nov 8, 13 at 9:10

Need pruning advice with 4 roses:
Have a Golden Showers and a Don Juan growing on the same trellis (just finished 2nd season) and a Zepherin Drouhin on a separate one (just finished 1st season). How should I prune these climbers? (GS is a bit wild and still blooming even with freezing night temps)
I also have a Mr. Lincoln that is still blooming as well, approx 6 yrs old and 5 or 6' tall. What is best way to prune this hybrid tea? Have pruned it in early winter before and another time in late winter/early spring - not sure which is best since it's always been a reliable bloomer.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Pruning Golden Showers, Don Juan, Zepherin Drouhin & Mr. Linc

  • Posted by seil z6b MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Nov 8, 13 at 10:09

Hi Kelly

Now is not the best time to prune any of your roses in cold zones. They store energy to come back with in those canes so you want to leave them as much energy as possible. If those climbers are flopping around in the wind tie them up securely for the winter instead of pruning them. Next spring you be able to tell what is good cane and what has died back over the winter and that's when you can prune them.

Mr. L. is the same thing. Early spring when they just begin to fatten the leaf buds is the best time to prune all roses except for once bloomer which should only be pruned AFTER they bloom during the season. A general rule of thumb (often considered an old wives tale) is to prune when the forsythia start to bloom. For me I think it makes good sense because the forsythia won't bloom until the soil temperature is warm enough to promote new growth. Next spring when you see your first forsythia in bloom check your roses and I'll bet you'll see some new growth beginning! Then you can prune them.

RE: Pruning Golden Showers, Don Juan, Zepherin Drouhin & Mr. Linc

The pruning should be done in early, early spring, and NOT in the fall or early winter. If you are pruning fall and spring, that definitely is too much pruning.

I'm not sure what you are pruning for, so it is hard to give suggestions. You don't need to prune just for the sake of pruning. Here are some reasons I prune in my zone 6 garden in Kansas:

1. Prune out brown and dead wood.
2. Prune to cut off winter/freeze damage--I do a test cut near the end of the cane. If the center (pith) is a bright white, there is no winter damage and I do no more cutting back. If the center (pith) is "off" (kinda tannish), I go down the cane about 4-6 inches and cut again. If the pith is still not bright white, I go down another 4-6 inches and cut again--and so forth, until I reach bright white pith. This kind of pruning is usually limited to hybrid teas which, sometimes being a bit iffy temperature wise, suffer more from winter cold. The hybrid teas sometimes have to be pruned back nearly to the ground before good pith is available. (Check the hardiness number on your new roses--make sure they are winter-hardy for your zone.) Assuming most of your roses are hardy enough for zone 6, you won't need to do this kind of pruning for most of them.
3. Prune to control height--cut back at most by 1/3. But it is rare that height is a problem here, so I rarely prune just to control height. At most I may give the rose a very light "haircut" overall--a couple inches at most.
4. Occasionally I prune a bit for shape--a branch is jutting out too much, making the rose look lop-sided, so I trim back that branch a bit. I don't usually need to do much of this kind of pruning.
5. If a branch got broken off as a result of the winter winds, I make a smooth, neat cut immediately below the breakage. This rarely happens also.
6. With climbers, I avoid cutting back the long canes. Instead trim back the "laterals" growing off the long canes--make them about 6 inches long. It is those laterals that will probably produce the next set of blooms.
7. Occasionally a rose gets much too crowded in the center, so I thin it out. This rarely happens, however.
8. Prune to rejuvenate an older shrub. Cut out at ground level 1 or 2 old canes (they will often look grey and barklike). Do that each year for several years. New canes should be produced each year, and in about 3 years, you will have a "new" and "younger" rose bush.

Right off hand, those are the major reasons I can think of for pruning. And note that most of them are only occasionally needed. The only ones I regularly do every early spring are numbers 1 and 2: deadwood, and freeze damage.

Hope that helps.


RE: Pruning Golden Showers, Don Juan, Zepherin Drouhin & Mr. Linc

Thank u so much for your replies seil and dublinbay - appreciate your advice! I will look to prune for general health and vigor right around the time that my forsythia are blooming. Thx again!

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