Pinching back young canes

michaelg(7a NC Mts)July 1, 2011

I brought this up a few years ago, but thought I'd raise it again, since it's never discussed in rose books. You can often induce branching by pinching back.

Sometimes basals or major laterals are too strong. They outgrow the rest of the plant and terminate in an awkward cluster, then you cut them back and waste a lot of growth. But if you remove the growth tip early, the shoot should stop and produce laterals relatively close to the ground, resulting in more bloom and a denser plant.

More and lower branching can be desirable with leggy narrow hybrid teams, with climbers that need their legs clothed, with shrubs that make 8' basals, etc.

It doesn't always work, in that you may get only one lateral, thus no benefit, and bloom is delayed a week or two. That is more likely to happen with weaker shoots, or it might be a variable between varieties as well. (I should have kept notes over the years, but I haven't.)

Pinching is is best done when the shoot is 12" long or less, and be alert, because basals can grow 2" a day. Be sure to get the solid growth tip and not just leaves. The latent buds in leaf axils near the growth tip will respond quickly, often in just a week. Clipping the shoot further down can work, but the response may be slower.

So eight days ago I pinched a fat basal on 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles.' Today it already has three branches coming. I pinched it at 12" but the upper stem telescoped out another foot before slowing down. So, ideally, I should have stopped it sooner or clipped a few inches down to get the branching closer to the ground. Still, it's a good result.

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le_jardin_of_roses(zone 10)

I am very intrigued by this information. What I would do before is peg the laterals when they got too long, but I want to try cutting the laterals down immediately to make the bush denser. My Golden Celebration for example, likes to throw out long laterals that I want to cut back, but I would always fear delaying and losing bloom power, so I would leave it alone. Now you say to cut it down to 12" to make it bushy. That seems severe. Is that better than 24" for bushiness? Also when you say "pinch", would that also mean to prune it down to desired length? Michael, I thank you for bringing this knowledge to the forum.

Juliet

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 2:01PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Hi Juliet, I'm suggesting that you try stopping the shoots before they grow out much and make them branch while they are still glassy, immature shoots. I was talking mostly about basals, but you could try it with laterals that you think are going to grow long. I would pinch laterals when they reach 8" or so. You want to leave several leaf axils below the pinch--these are scrunched close together in a young shoot.

I said "pinch" because I remove the soft growing tip with my fingernails, as you would do with chrysanthemums.

I have been trying to prune 'Radio Times' to stand up. I cut it back some after the spring flush and it responded with 6' laterals, which are budding out nicely but look absurd and triffid-like. I should have tried pinching these when they were little but missed the opportunity. I haven't experimented much with laterals, but RT is an appropriate candidate.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 3:46PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

PS Juliet: rereading your post, I want to clarify that I am not talking about severe pruning of the whole plant, just stopping the growth of individual new shoots by removing the growth tips.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 3:58PM
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le_jardin_of_roses(zone 10)

Thank you for clarifying things for me. This is very useful information for shaping the bush into a desired form. After letting a rose bush develop a structure, I can shape it and make it more "filled in" by these techniques. I look forward to experimenting with individual laterals and basals to achieve the desired effect. Thanks again, Michael!

Juliet

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 4:26PM
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roseseek

What Michael is suggesting is what is done to budded plants so you get a branched plant instead of a single cane one. Whether it's a newly budded plant or a newly rooted one, pinching them back encourages branching so it's bushy when you receive it. Greenheart, who produces millions of potted minis annually, traditionally roots cuttings and shears them back after they begin to grow to encourage dense, bushy plants in their pots. That's why the market potted minis are so dense and bushy, covered with flowers. Many of them don't have that growth pattern normally. Plant them out and let them grow, you'll see how tall and columnar many of them are. There is sound horticultural basis and established practice for this suggestion.

Training and pruning climbers and other espalliered plants requires the same practice. By pinching the growth tips out of the laterals before they get too long, you encourage them to branch, producing at least twice the number of flowering and fruiting tips than you otherwise would have. Kim

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 4:46PM
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brother_cadfael(z5 seWI)

Thanks for the reminder Michael. :)

I have a 'James Galway' I'm going to try this out on. He's about one foot wide and eight feet tall at 5 years old... and not in a location I can train him as a climber. I may move him someday because I never expected him to grow like a small climber.

Rob

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 5:10PM
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ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

A very informative post, Michael, thank you so much for bringing it up.

Ingrid

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 12:35AM
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melissa_thefarm(NItaly)

Yes, indeed; thanks.
Melissa

    Bookmark   July 2, 2011 at 2:43AM
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sunnysideuphill(5)

I have a Papi Delbard climber, three years past the band stage, that has two strong basals going sideways, with smaller laterals - I have put off tying him to a trellis but now I am going to go to work on him!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 2:05PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

sunnyside, is Papi Delbard cane-hardy there? I think the range of blended colors makes this a really interesting rose--each new bud is going to surprise you somehow. The first flower in the second flush this year was medium yellow; the second one is opening a mild, warm pink veined with red and silver, but no telling how it will finish.

The three shoots I induced from Tess's basal are already fattened up and 8" long--they will be strong laterals--I guess I could re-pinch one and see what happens.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 4:03PM
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sherryocala

I'm not sure how relevant my situation is, but this year my poor Maman Cochet, Cl hasn't had a cane break anywhere survive past a few feet of length - and sometimes only a few inches - due to idiot squirrels chewing them off while they're still soft. I feed the plant, it puts out new growth which then gets chewed off. The rose is in obvious distress which lots of dieback and not much in the way of new leaves in the canopy. Can stopping all new growth from below 5' damage a rose?

Today I sprinkled cayenne pepper along the top of the fence, the trellis rails, canes and new growth. I guess I should have done this a long time ago.

Sherry

Here is a link that might be useful: If only sweat were irrigation...

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 8:06PM
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roseseek

Yes, Sherry, the squirrel keeping the canes and foliage chewed off can eventually kill the plant. It continues using its resources attempting to grow without the necessary foliage to create new resources and without the thick, old wood Teas require to store them in. The squirrel is equal to over pruning it. Teas do NOT like hard pruning, as you know. So, yes, it can and probably will hurt it if you can't stop it. Kim

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 12:18AM
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sadie_pnw

Sherry, do you think the squirrels are after water when they're chewing on your juicy young canes? I know it's stinkin' hot where you are right now...

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 12:43AM
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roseseek

Water and food. All the best nutrients are concentrated in those new shoots. They're doing the same here now. Kim

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 1:52AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

The synthetic repellant Ro-pel works really well against rabbits and is labeled for squirrels. Spray a test area on each different rose variety and wait several days to check for phytotoxicity. Don't spray on water-stressed plants. It should persist through rain better than pepper. However, growing shoots will probably need to be re-treated as they grow out.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 9:44AM
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sunnysideuphill(5)

I should have replied to all here - yes, Papi made it through his second winter, with nothing but a few hemlock sprays to support the heavy snow cover. Not even a dead tip to prune off.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 3:41PM
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jacqueline9CA

Re pinching back young canes - Ha! the deer here have been doing that for me for ages. They usually just take off the very tender part - maybe the top 4-5 inches of a new cane that is 2-3 feet high. The canes immediately put out new growth, and yes, sometimes instead of just one cane, it branches into 2 or 3.

When I remember I spray the new growth with "Liquid Fence" which works great, but of course only on the growth you spray it on, not on the newer growth that comes the next day......

Jackie

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 4:37PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I've tried that (the blasted rabbits have done it as well on their own) but have not had much luck with it--could it be some cultivars do not respond? Or is it the climate?

Slightly different, but another technique I've discovered is "finger pruning" which I believe is rubbing off a new lateral in an undesirable location just as it starts, when it is still as soft as warm butter. I arranged SGMC on a new structure and am rubbing off all the new tiny growth that is pointing directly inside the structure (where people should be able to walk through).

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 10:31PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

hoov, I think perhaps some cultivars don't respond; they may want to come back with only one lateral shoot; but I've tended not to repeat the experiment on roses that did that, so I haven't really confirmed a pattern.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 10:04AM
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taoseeker

I know some roses like Frau Karl Druschki are notorious for sprouting only one lateral when pinched; but this is in the fields first year after grafting. I have not had the same experience with this variety. When I do it it's often later in the season, the plant has lots of leaves and is growing well. It might have to do with how well it is fed and season. I have always counted 4 set of leaves before I pinched of the tip, and not payed so much attention to inches. However, it always feels a bit risky to do it.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 12:24PM
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sherryocala

Here is one that responds to chewing with multiple laterals - Duchesse d'Auerstadt. Hopefully, you can see the 3 new laterals on the end of this 5' long cane that comes to an abrupt end. No deer here - just vicious squirrels, thank you very much.

So apprarently, Maman Cochet, Cl is not one that does that and mostly does not respond to new growth being chewed with ANY laterals.

Sherry

Here is a link that might be useful: If only sweat were irrigation...

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 1:37PM
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carolinamary

Michael said:

> ...You can often induce branching by pinching back.
Sometimes basals or major laterals are too strong. They outgrow the rest of the plant and terminate in an awkward cluster, then you cut them back and waste a lot of growth. But if you remove the growth tip early, the shoot should stop and produce laterals relatively close to the ground, resulting in more bloom and a denser plant.

>More and lower branching can be desirable with leggy narrow hybrid teams, with climbers that need their legs clothed, with shrubs that make 8' basals, etc.

>It doesn't always work,...

Michael, you end up offering great tips all the time!

Any experience in doing this with Reine des Violettes? It's possible that we have one that this tip was tailored for. But I don't know; I've never done anything like this, except for what our rabbits decided to accomplish for us... too many times for the health of one of the roses.

We received our Reine des Violettes as an ownroot plant that had been 2-gallon container grown outside and then trimmed some on the roots and top before shipping still dormant from California in April in a small amount of soil. It had two fairly short thinish canes. We potted it into organically rich soil in a 3-gallon container and within about three weeks it was leafing out nicely. But no noticeable laterals or new basal canes that early.

Next, it was transferred completely intact into excellent soil in the ground here around the first of June. It has continued to look good and now has put out about a 10-inch new, VERY ROBUST, basal cane that is still growing nicely. No flowers yet, but I'm not really expecting any until next spring; I just want to give it the best possible start.

I've read that it's a generally a good idea to leave off any pruning (or, I'm supposing, pinching back too?) until a rose has been in the ground longer than this one has, so that's the way I was inclined before reading this thread. (I do know not all roses behave the same way...)

We're slightly more inclined to want a bushier shape than a climbing shape for that spot, though it's not out of the question that we could put an obelisk there for it if it really only had a few terribly long canes. On the other hand, this pinching back sounds like an easier solution toward bushiness than, say, looping the long canes into circles pegged back upon themselves, which is what I thought I might try if the rose got too long-legged for the spot.

Assuming we still favor a bushy shape by the time the season is over in November here, how about pruning all three canes back a few inches next February when the Forsythia are blooming? (That's assuming it continues to have just three canes, which, judging from comments, might be enough to expect from that rose for one year's growth?) Or would a pinch back work much better now on that new cane, while the tip is soft? Or is Reine des Violettes one of those roses that really don't appreciate losing leaves/canes at all, especially while trying to get established?

Thanks for any tips.

Best wishes,
Mary

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 1:40AM
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roseseek

Mary, my old RdV never responded well to pinching back. It WANTED, needed to be large and the canes were longer than most other OGRs I grew at the time. As long as I allowed it to throw longer canes, it flowered. It was a heavily virused Roses of Yesterday and Today plant and that may have had something to do with it, but from observation of it and the ones I encountered at The Huntington as a volunteer, the variety appeared to require the long wood with the extra foliage to perform, which makes sense. Though not large, the flowers were plentiful and quite double and that requires energy to produce. Kim

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 12:55PM
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carolinamary

Hi Kim,

Thanks so much!

I hope our Reine des Violettes isn't virused. I've only had two roses that were virused and it took me a long time to discover why those two were hopeless (when the oak leaf pattern finally appeared).

This Reine des Violettes came from Greenmantle Nursery and if it's virused then I'm guessing that Ram hasn't seen any sign of virusing there. Anyway, I think it would be wise to treat your experience as relevant here too, and I'll just let Reine des Violettes do what it wants to do--and probably let it share a tuteur with Mortimer Sackler. Or Amazone. Though I don't think I've seen anything about Amazone being good for climbing, and at the moment it's definitely a very small ownroot plant. Anyway, however they are arranged, I'm expecting the colors on those two new roses, Reine des Violettes and Amazone, to look really good next to one another, once they start blooming here.

I knew when getting started with Reine des Violettes that it might be a bit trickier than say, Ducher, to grow, but liked its thornlessness and the potential color combination with Amazone. Fingers crossed that it works out okay for a no-spray yard in our humid climate. So far, it's doing great in that regard; not a speck of anything unwanted anywhere. No signs of too much alkalinity either, but I think that's probably due entirely to our unusually good luck with having plenty of drenching rainfall during most of the summer thus far. (The watering we do, when we do it, is with water that is too alkaline, so we do have some sulfate and Epsom Salts at the ready.)

Kim, thanks so much for all your contributions. I have learned so much from you.

Best wishes,
Mary

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 6:10PM
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rosecats

I'm responding to the squirrel problem rather than the thread title, tho that topic interests me as well. In the past I've put coffee grounds & rosemary clippings in the tops of containers to deter squirrels & they stayed away afterwards. Mind you, I don't have a huge squirrel problem. I've also used rosemary, sage and/or lavendar teas in the vegetable garden to deter gophers w/ pretty good success, as long as I reapplied the tea every other week or so. You might give one of these ideas a try!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 10:59PM
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roseseek

Why, thank you, Mary! Much appreciated. I'm happy I could offer some help. Kim

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 12:03AM
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floridarosez9

Best squirrel deterrent is a varmint dog. My dog has been gone a year now due to cancer, but the squirrels still haven't figured out she's gone. Until I got her, they were driving me crazy, digging in pots, getting in the bird feeders, etc., etc. I still have them but they're afraid to come out of the backyard, which is all natural woods with a creek, nothing that I've planted.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 7:40PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Following up, I pinched back one of the strong laterals resulting from the original pinch. It looks to be starting three laterals. So now there are 5 canes in place of what would probably have been a climbing-length basal. Wish I had pinched the other two original laterals as well.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 12:03PM
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echolane(SFBayMidPen)

I wonder if pinching laterals would help to make William Shakespear2000 into an attractive shapely plant. This plant has so frustrated me with it's ugly ungainly habit and it's very beautiful flowers. It wouldn't be quite so awful if it would send it's ultra long squirrely growing laterals upright, but no, they grow sideways into neighboring roses instead. I call it my sideways rose. It is not a term of endearment. I can't wait to try pinching it.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 12:25AM
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