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Video:Pruning Rose Bushes

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Pruning rose bushes is essential to ensure their healthy growth and development. Know when and why to prune before growing your own rose bush in your home garden.See Transcript

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Transcript:Pruning Rose Bushes

Hi, I'm Sam Barrett with Sam Barrett Designs.  We are an urban landscape company here in New York City.  I'm here today for About.com to show you how to prune rose bushes.

When to Prune & Why to Prune

The best time to prune roses is in February or March and there are a couple of reasons to prune.  One is to shape the rose to give it a kind of appearance that you want and the other is to encourage growth.  It's important not to cut more than 50% of the wood of the rose that you're pruning.  If the rose is 5 feet tall, don't take it down lower than 2.5 feet.

Necessary Tools

It's really important to have good gloves when you are pruning roses because there are a lot of really sharp thorns.  You also want a good pair of pruning shears. 

Getting Started

You want to always start by cutting out dead wood and dead leaves.  We want to trim off the broken and dead branches because that's where disease usually enters the plant.  This branch has been broken.  So we are just going to clean that up.  Since we are in the growing season, it's July here, these roses already flower a bit. 

How to Prune Rose Bushes

We have these dead buds we want to prune.  This will flower again later in the season.  So we look for the first five leaf node.  So this node here, there are 3 leaves, that's no good.  This next one, there are 5 leaves on that node.  So we want to cut about a quarter inch above, a nice clean cut with sharp shears.  We traveled down from this dead bud to the first 5 leaf stem. 

Now this is your growing season pruning.  This is what you want to do throughout the growing season.  We are traveling down.  We want to see the first 5 leaf node.  I'm going to cut it about a quarter inch above.  We'll have new shoots coming out from there.  It's the wrong time of year.  Right here, it's July here in New York City but I'm going to show you a little bit about how to shape this up as if it were the middle of winter and we wanted to clean this up.

I want to get all this lower growth off the year.  I want to encourage this rose shrub upwards.  So I'm going to clean off all this low shoots.  We want to kind of clean up the tangled rose.  So we get upward and outward growth.  In the East, people tend to prune the roses shorter because of the heavy snow.  They like to prune the roses so that when it snows, it branches the way down and break.

On the West Coast, in Seattle, Portland, a lot of gardeners prefer to have total leggier roses, taller roses, because they don't have the heavy snow fall that would damage the plants.  In the winter, some people like to pull of the leaves of their roses bushes to improve their appearance.

Now this rose is look spent to me.  I'm going to cut down to the first 5 leaf node again.  That's 4, its 5 leaf node here.  This is growing too much for the middle for my taste so I'm going to prune that out because I want this upward and outward growth.  You want to make your cuts as close to the next stem as possible, about a quarter inch.  You allow risk for that wood when it dies to rot and for disease to enter the plant.  So we want this to be a quarter inch away from the next stem, the next leaf node and we want to make a steep angle so water runs off.

Now this one is a little flat.  I want to make this cut a slight angle.  Now water will run off and be less likely to rot the plant and that's how you trim a rose bush. 

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