Point me towards thorough pruning info, & troubleshooting?

Sphee(8b)January 8, 2014

I have a variety of roses planted by the previous owner of my home. They range from a couple extremely vigorous ones, to a rootstock "volunteer," to a couple large "viney" ones and a couple that are very civilized.

Whenever I look for information about pruning these roses, I either find information that is so basic it does not address the different types of roses I seem to have, or else I find books that list different specimens as if the only goal is to buy new roses. Can anyone point me towards the best resource for information about pruning of, and general care of, the full range of different rose types?

Also, my roses are very troubled by now, some more than others. Primarily by blackspot. (I live in the Pacific Northwest.) So I'm thinking I need to prune them as much as possible this year. I also wonder if the soil is depleted... I compost but it's a small space with many plants. What is the best way to intensely but cautiously fertilize roses? And what is the maximum one can safely prune roses, and is that in fact a good approach for my roses at this point?

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strawchicago 5a IL

Hi Sphee: There are 2 types of roses: once blooming and repeat-blooming. The once-blooming are big and messy, such as Dr. Huey rootstock. Those need to be drastically pruned AFTER flowering, 1/2 to 1/3 off. DO NOT prune early spring, since the once-bloomers bloom on old wood.

The repeat-blooming are compact & slender hybrid teas, These need to be pruned 1/3 to 1/2 off in early spring (when the forsythia bloom, or when the trees bud out). After each blooming, prune less than foot off.

Austin roses and repeat-bloom bushes like Knock-outs: prune like hybrid-teas: less than one foot off after blooming, and DRASTIC prune in spring (1/3 to 1/2 off).

Own-root roses can take drastic pruning better than grafted on rootstock. Some roses on Dr. Huey need to achieve certain height before flowering, but that's not the case with own-root, which can flower like crazy as a tiny plant ... see below picture of my less than a foot Crimson Glory hybrid tea, bought as a tiny band.

How much to prune depends on how much water one gets: Lots of melted snow & spring flood in my zone 5a, so I can chop repeat-bloomers down to 1 foot in early spring. But in mid-August, or after the 3rd-blooming, we get drought up to100 degrees temp. ..so I prune lightly. After the 4th-blooming, or late fall, I don't prune for best winter survival.

The tip of using Elmer glue to seal doesn't work in my rainy weather. I haven't tried the tip of sealing the branches with my sticky clay, but that worked well with trees.

Cheapest way to fertilizer roses: Dry chicken manure pellets, such as Chickity-do-do sold for $8 per 25 lbs. at Menards, or $24 for 40 lbs. at HomeDepot, or $3 for a small bag at Lowe's. Dry chicken manure is stinky, best cover with some dirt. I used 1/4 cup on small rose, and 1/2 cup on taller 3' x 3' roses. Dry chicken manure is highest in salt among all manures, less is best. The advantage of chicken manure is: high in boron, copper, zinc, potassium, and calcium .... nutrients most lacking in soil which make roses more disease-prone.

I top-dress roses with chicken manure after flowering or early spring. Then sprinkle some bagged manure or bagged top soil. I tested bagged soil & manure in my Chicagoland, they are alkaline above pH 7.5 ... which is great for fungal suppression, black spot spores can't germinate when it's dry and alkaline.

The bacteria in the bagged manure also suppress fungal growth. Cheap bagged top soil tend to be drier & more alkaline & discourage fungal growth. Caution on mushroom compost: way too alkaline & higher salt. Caution on moisture-holding soil (with peatmoss), since wetter surface means more fungal germination.

Keep surface dry and alkaline is the key to suppress fungal growth, that's one thing I learned from my microbiology class in college. See below link for the biggest Pinterest on roses with name identification, very useful to identify any roses.

Here is a link that might be useful: UrszulaT. picture collection of roses

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Fri, Jan 10, 14 at 15:54

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 1:11PM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

Paul Zimmerman has pruning videos on youtube, he is thorough, and knowledgeable.

"General care" can vary with location. I would recommend contacting a Consulting Rosarian in your area, I have added a link to the Pacific Northwest rose societies.

An easy way to boost the soil and fertilize the roses is to use an organic-based fertilizer. Some people like to make their own blends, but there are pre-made versions available. I know there is Dr. Earth in the west (there may be others), and we have Espoma products here.

Take your time. It might take some tries to determine what works best for your growing conditions. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Pacific Northwest Rose Society list

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 10:27AM
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strawchicago 5a IL

Hi Sphee: I understand that you live in Canada. The tip of 1/3 to 1/2 off is from David Austin's catalog (applies to grafted on Dr. Huey).

The definition of pesticides includes fungicides, see below link: 1) insecticide 2) fungicide 3) miticide 4) herbicide. The link also considers harms with organic pesticides.


Someone in Canadian rose forum wrote, "Bayer Advanced products NOT available NOR can be imported" in Canada. So Robert in English Rose forum is right about Canadian and European Union ban. According to Wikipedia: "In Canada as of December 31, 2010, 171 municipalities have now placed restrictions on pesticides". European Union already banned neonicotinoids.

Many of the pesticides (includes fungicides) have health risks that are not known until later. May 13, 2013 was the news on Parkinson's disease "Researchers found exposure to pesticides increased the risk of developing the disease by 33 percent to 80 percent. Some pesticides were considered to be of higher risk than others, with weed killers like paraquat and FUNGICIDES MANEB AND MANCOZEB causing twice the risk for development of Parkinson’s disease ... Another recent publication found that rural residents who drank contaminated well water had an increased risk��"up to 90 percent��"of developing Parkinson’s." See link below:

Hard pruning helps to generate new & healthy growth. University of Illinois Extension recommended pruning down to less than 2" for black spot-infested roses. A hard winter-kill in my zone 5a does that as well. I have an Austin rose "Wise Portia", which I watered with used grapefruit rinds .. failed experiment! I thought I killed it for sure, it was a black 2" stump in June. I was too lazy to dig it out, and it grew healthy leaves ... and became my most healthy & most flowering rose among my 55+. See picture below of my mauve Austin rose, Wise Portia:

Here is a link that might be useful: Pesticides and Parkinson Disease

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Wed, Jan 15, 14 at 9:46

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 9:44AM
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I firmly believe that nature is from God, won't benefit from man-made killing agents .. not meant to mix nature with human-made stuff. My roses are doing fine without any killing agents. They just grow from local soil and compose, I used diluted soap spray on tiny insects but not as good as with fingers. It is such beauty in nature, no need to ruin anything with our human cruelty. Those Bayer's people just want to make money, and not caring about the harmful side-effects. If you look at "Dainty Bess" rose after 85F yesterday, I am so pleased it takes only one day from bud to fully opens this morning 8am, photo taken only several minutes ago.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 12:10PM
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it is awesome to find this neglected Sunflower seeds from last spring started late or too early in Jan 15, how vigorous, and soon the flower will be turning yellow from green, it is "Lemon Queen" Sunflower, without any special care, it is the right north corner side of front yard, receives plenty of sunlight. I killed a few bought one foot sunflower plants from nursery, 3 years ago, decided to plant from the seed, turned out it is the right choice, my own beautiful sunflower, it likes the soil, no more death ever since.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 12:25PM
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strawchicago 5a IL

Hi Seaweed: Your Dainty Bess is so pretty, WOW !! That's a beauty, among your many roses, thank you for sharing your 160+ roses garden with Organic Rose.

Your Sunflower looks very healthy, it's a testimony of healthy soil makes healthy plant. My minor in college was chemistry ... but after doing experiments with chemical fertilizers, I could see how chemicals upset the balance of soil and leaf flora, and zapped out bacteria to favor fungal growth.

Gardengal is a degreed horticulturist, a licensed pesticide consultant, plus a frequent poster in Soil forum, wrote this in Organic Rose many years ago, in response to black spot question. See below:

•Posted by gardengal48 PNW zone 8 (My Page) on Tue, Jan 25, 05 at 10:25

"Gosh, I wouldn't pose questions about organic controls on the regular Rose forum - those folks are seriously into chemicals.

Milk can be a deterrent to any rose fungal disease as it changes the chemical composition of surface of the foliage making it difficult for fungal spores to germinate. Same thing with the baking soda formulation. However, they are only effective if applied before any sign of the disease is evident and you repeat the applications consistently throughout the season.

Neither will be 100% effective 100% of the time. And black spot, unlike PM, has the ability to become systemic in the plant tissues if not controlled carefully in the previous season, so topical treatments in this case will only have modest results.

My personal choice for organic controls of rose fungal problems is aerobically brewed compost tea. Spraying my roses monthly has been almost completely effective in controlling these problems in my garden. Both nurseries that I have been associated with as well as the test and display gardens of the Seattle Rose Society and the U of W grounds keeping staff swear by this treatment with exceptionally positive results." Gardengal48

Gardengal48 credentials is listed in her homepage of Gardenweb: "I am a degreed horticulturist, a licensed pesticide consultant and plant problem diagnostician, a buyer/manager for a local retail garden center and a professional landscape designer. I am an obsessive plant collector and at last count had about 1500 different plant species." Gardengal48.

*** From Straw: the 1st step in trouble-shoot problems with plants is to test one's soil pH. Below is the procedure I wrote to test soil pH using 50 cents of red cabbage juice and $1 of distilled water. It's more accurate than litmus, since it has a wider range of color changes. It's more accurate than pH meter, since it doesn't require calibration. Even the $200 pH meter needs calibration before each use to be accurate.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cheapest way to test soil pH using red cabbage

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Wed, Jan 15, 14 at 19:34

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 5:19PM
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