In the Garden:
Cutting roses to bring indoors is one of my favorite gardening activities. These fragrant beauties will grace my dining room table.
Growing hybrid tea and floribunda roses in the Pacific Northwest can be a challenge because despite all the coddling we give them, our cool, wet summers are not at all to their liking. I've found that the best approach is planting the most disease-resistant varieties I can find and providing them with full sunshine and lots of elbow room. Proper pruning is another key to success.
Rose breeders always label their roses if they're especially resistant to common fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew, rust, or black spot. Of course, resistant doesn't mean immune, so you'll still want to provide the best growing conditions possible.
I've planted the most disease-resistant varieties I can find, with the one criteria that they be single blossoms. The best performers in my garden are the hybrid teas 'Golden Masterpiece' and 'Gold Glow'. Three years ago I rescued a velvety red-blooming 'Mr. Lincoln' from a neighbor's garden. It produces a fantastic bloom, but it's only moderately resistant to rust, powdery mildew, and black spot. Still, it's a treasure in the rose bed, and I make sure it has lots of elbow room to promote good air circulation all around, allowing the foliage to dry quickly to discourage foliar diseases. Along our newly constructed arbor I've installed 'Scarlet Star', a climber with great disease resistance and outstanding blossoms.
The purpose of pruning roses is to promote good health and stimulate blooming. Late winter or early spring -- just when the buds begin to swell -- is the best time to prune. You'll need hand pruners, long-handled loppers, and a good pair of leather gloves. Wear long sleeves to protect your arms from scratches, and before beginning, make sure your tools are sharp. Dull blades will leave ragged edges, an open invitation to disease and insect pests.
Think about how you want your plant to look before you begin. What you're aiming for is an outward-growing shrub with an open center. Identify and save the newest canes -- usually the greenest and most productive. Remove the really old woody stems and any that are crossing or crowding others. Cut those canes down to the bud union (the place where the rose variety is grafted onto the rootstock) whenever possible. Remove any growth that's smaller than a pencil. When you've done all that, you should have three to five canes extending from the bud union. Visually divide the remaining canes into three equal parts, and remove the top third of each cane.
Making pruning cuts may seem tricky, but it's really quite simple. Make the cut 1/4 inch above a bud that's facing to the outside of the shrub, cutting downward at a 45-degree angle so water runs off the cane.
When you've finished pruning, your rose should have a well-balanced appearance with healthy young canes. It's a good idea to seal the cut wounds with petroleum jelly or a white glue to keep out any cane borers looking for a place to lay eggs.
Be sure to gather and dispose of all the pruned canes. Remove any mulch, dead leaves, and weeds under your roses as well. Lay down some new mulch to make things look neat, then stand back and admire your handiwork.
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