Pruning Shrub Roses
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Pruning Shrub Roses
by Don Janssen, UNL Extension Educator
Many gardeners do not prune landscape roses, because they fear they will do something wrong and damage or kill the plants. However, pruning provides several benefits including improved flower quality. Pruning gives plants a better shape and maintains a plant size that fits into the landscape. Pruning also improves plant health by increasing air movement through the plants foliage.
Shrub roses should be pruned in early spring, late February or March while they are still dormant or it can be left until early spring when new growth begins.
Follow this sequence of steps when pruning to make the process seem less complicated. First, remove any dead, diseased or damaged branches. Remove dead wood to the nearest healthy bud. Pith (located in the center of the stem) should be creamy white on healthy, live wood, not brown or gray. If the inside of the stem is brown, prune the cane back farther. Make the cut at least one inch below the dead area. If there are no live buds, remove the entire branch or cane to the base of the plant. Examine canes carefully for canker (a darkened, sunburned-looking area) or other diseased areas. If disease is found, cut down to a good bud at least one inch below any evidence of disease. Prune to where the pith is healthy or to the plant's crown.
Next, remove up to one third of the oldest, woodiest stems, cutting them back to the plant's crown. This encourages the growth of new, vigorous stems from the plant crown and eliminates the development of many old, woody branches which produce poor flowering. It also increases air circulation through the plant, reducing potential for disease problems.
Finally, shape the plant as needed keeping in mind that shrub roses should not have more than 1/3 of their canopy height removed.
Popular shrub roses that perform well in the landscape include older, traditional varieties like 'The Fairy', 'Frau Dagmar Hastrup', 'Harison's Yellow', 'Seafoam', 'Meidiland' and 'Hansa'. Newer varieties include 'Nearly Wild', 'Knock Out' and 'Pink Knock Out'.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line yard and garden educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office
Contact InformationUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln
in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A,
Lincoln, NE 68528