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Demonstration will take edge off pruning roses

It’s time to prune your roses. The word “pruning” scares novices. There is no magic or secrets to rose pruning. The Las Vegas Valley Rose Society wants to take the scare out of pruning your roses at a demonstration from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 1112 Oak Tree Lane (near Valley View Boulevard and Washington Avenue). Learn how to prune, care and show off your roses. For more information, call 646-6048.

There are three reasons for pruning: to remove the old, dead and diseased wood; to shape the bush; and to open up its center to let the light in. If you butcher it back too far, it will produce new canes but you might not get many roses. If you don’t prune it at all, it will become a jungle, which will lead to smaller blooms.

Here is what Dick Jackson of the Rose Society does to make his bushes produce beautiful blooms:

Equipment: You need sharp pruning nippers, a set of long-handled loppers, a pruning saw, a pair of heavy gloves and patience.

When to prune: Do it before Feb. 1, even if they’re still blooming. You also must remove existing leaves.

1. Get to know your roses. There is no set rule on how many canes or how short to cut them back. Healthy bushes will support more canes than weaker bushes.

2. Remove the top half of your bushes. The more wood you leave, the smaller the blooms.

3. Get rid of dead, diseased wood and old gray canes.

4. Remove crisscrossing canes to open up the center to stimulate new growth and prevent mildew.

5. Make clean cuts, never leaving any stubs.

6. Remove growth coming from below the bud union. If in doubt, leave it until later. You can always cut it off, but you can’t put it back. Jackson finds new ideas come as he prunes others to make his decisions.

7. At this point, shape your bush down to the height you want. Make each final cut on a 45-degree angle with the bud eye (red swelling on cane) facing outward.

8. Give the bush one more once-over. You’ll still find something to nip out.

Clean up: Clean up the beds and foliage, then destroy it. Seal the cane ends with Elmer’s Glue to prevent borers from damaging them and the crown.

Bare-root roses: Select large-crowned roses with at least three thick, sturdy canes. Avoid canes dipped in wax and/or sprouting. With bare-root roses, you’ll have more to select from, they’re cheaper and easier to handle. Once home, keep roses cool until you plant them, but do it before Valentine’s Day.

Roses have big appetites: To each rose, add one cup each of soil sulfur, cottonseed meal and super phosphate or bone meal, plus 1/4 cup of magnesium sulfate. Scratch fertilizer into the top inch of soil and then thoroughly irrigate. Around Valentine’s Day, apply a balanced rose food. Now watch your roses take off.


Let Donnie Barnett of the Cactus and Succulent Society tell of new introductions of flora from our desert. That’s at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Paseo Verde Library, at 280 S. Green Valley Parkway in Henderson. It is free.

Linn Mills writes a garden column each Sunday. You can reach him at linn.mills@springspreserve.org or call him at 822-7754.

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