There's still time to lightly prune roses
Q: I missed pruning my roses bushes in January and they are now all leafing out. Is it too late to prune them?
A: If your roses are already leafing out and putting on new growth, you don’t want to prune them back as hard as you would earlier in the year when they are still mostly dormant.
However, you can still do some light pruning to increase the air circulation through the bush and remove any dead or damaged branches. This will minimize incidents of diseases such as botrytis and powdery mildew. By removing the dead and diseased canes, you encourage new buds to push out and renew the canes.
Pruning directions are assuming you have tea roses or shrub roses rather than the ground cover type of roses. To lightly prune, start by removing any dead or damaged looking canes from the rose bush and any suckers — green stemmed shoots — from below the bud union on the rose bush. The bud union is where the rose was grafted and appears as a bulge in the stem, usually just above the root crown.
Next remove any really old canes. You will be able to identify the old canes by their wrinkled grayish stems. The new cane have bright smooth green or mahogany skin. To remove canes start at the bottom of the bush and cut off the old grey canes, and leave the young juicy green ones that are larger around than a pencil.
Be sure to wear gloves and make clean cuts with sharp by-pass pruners. Cut close to the place where the old cane emerges from the crown or the main stem. While pruning and removing branches, be careful not to knock off the new green growth.
Once you have the old canes removed, cut off any stems that are crossing over the center of the bush, or are crossing over each other where they can cause rubbing wounds. Remove stems that try to grow toward the center; you want to achieve a vase shape. When pruning stems,
Make all cuts about ¼ of an inch above the node. This is the place on the stem where the leaf attaches to the stem.
The final step is to remove any old leaves that have black spot, the fungal disease and any rose hips. Leave the rest of the canes to keep growing and then come back next year with more aggressive pruning.
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We recommend pruning roses each year to prevent disease and maintain the plant's overall shape and appearance.
Once you are done pruning, fertilize with your favorite plant food and mulch around the shrubs with compost, shredded leaves or bark to help conserve water and reduce weed pressure.
The Shasta Master Gardeners Program can be reached by phone at 530-242-2219 or email email@example.com. The gardener office is staffed by volunteers trained by the University of California to answer gardeners' questions using information based on scientific research.