Rose Care Time

It's that time of year again!

Time to tuck your roses in for a couple of months so they can come back in top form this spring. Last year I was lazy/naughty/busy/experimenting (take your pick) and didn't get my roses taken care until early March. It turned out to not be the best plan...

Well, it's a new year and a new chance to do better, so let's do it together!

1) Prepare! Arm yourself with a pair of clean, sharp hand pruners- (Felco #2 is my favorite), a good pair of gloves, a hand rake and a garden trug or large bucket before you head out to the garden. To protect from thorns, a long sleeved shirt or jacket is also important..

2) Prune! First cut out all dead, diseased, weak and/or crossing branches(canes). Make these cuts all the way back, as far as possible, to where the branch comes from. Next, cut the remaining, healthy canes back so that the overall height of the bush is reduced by about half. Make these cuts at an angle - toward the inside of the bush, just above an outward-facing bud.

3) Clean up! Make sure all the leaves are off the bush. Remove them by hand if necessary. Rake up the leaves and any other refuse from under each bush. You can't be too meticulous on this step. The fallen leaves harbor diseases like rust and black spot that will over-winter there and reinfect the new leaves when they emerge if you don't get ALL of them - even the bits of stem and small pieces. Don't put this refuse in your compost- dispose of it in your green waste container.

4) Tuck in! Apply a 3" deep layer of shredded bark mulch around the base of the bush, being careful to stay 2-3" away from the stem.

5) Relax... No need to feed them or apply any organic fungicides until the leaf buds start to swell in March. You have just effectively put your roses into hibernation. Now sit back and let them sleep! Zzzzz...

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