The why's, when's, what's & how to's on pruning!

Roses need to be pruned for two reasons:

1. to take out old and diseased wood which will encourage new flowering shoots to grow & 2. to keep a good shape & to allow light and air to circulate through an open centre.

Roses should be pruned when they are dormant. Pruning can take place in the autumn (November), but if there is frost and your garden gets cold in winter, then only prune in spring (March/April) when it's alittle warmer.

To prune your roses you'll need a strong pair of gloves, a pair of sharp secateurs and if you are pruning a climber, you'll need some twine.

Ok, so you're ready - here is the how to bit....

It is important to cut a shoot properly. You should always make a cut at a 45 degree angle just above a bud. To find a bud, you need to look at the stem. Where you see a little nobble, normally just above where a leaf is, this is where you'll cut as the nobble will grow into a new shoot. Before you cut, you need to choose a bud that is facing outwards as this will grow into a shoot. You don't want a new shoot growing into the centre of the plant. Now that you're ready to cut, it is important to cut about a quarter of an inch above the bud at a slant. This is because if it happened to rain, the rain will run away from the bud and not drown it. Make sure it's a clean cut as you don't want to tear the stem as this could lead to disease.

Various roses need to be pruned differently, however there are some shoots that should always be cut out right at the start:

shoots that are dead shoots that are weak & spindly shoots that are old & gnarled shoots that are growing into the middle of the bush, making it crowded & any shoots that are rubbing against another.

Remember that after pruning, rose plants should be fed.

More info on more specific pruning and feeding to come.