Homegrown: Pruning roses

I have two 6-foot high, large rose bushes that have a weed cover at the base covered with medium-sized gravel. I would like to have a better-shaped and smaller plant. What do I need to do to ensure that?

Thank you.

Having a better-shaped and smaller plant revolves mostly around how you prune your roses in the spring.

If you want a smaller plant, prune it back farther in the spring.

I would cut the rose canes so that they’re no higher than 12 inches from the ground (you could cut them as short as 6 inches if you want). This will keep the plant shorter.

To thicken it up, you may have to do some “pinching” as the season progresses.

Pinching is simply pinching out the terminal growing tip of the shoots that sprout from the plant. It slows down the plant’s growth, keeping it shorter, but it also encourages the growth of lateral buds along the stem.

These lateral buds are usually prevented from sprouting because of a plant hormone that’s produced by that terminal bud. Removing the bud stops the hormone and some of those lateral buds will sprout and grow, giving you a thicker, bushier plant.

It’s important to time the pinching properly. Don’t do it as soon as the plant sprouts; wait until those shoots are 5 or 6 inches long. Give that shoot a chance to grow out enough to have several leaves on it.

This gets the plant to grow out a bit and those lateral buds are all located at the base of each leaf.

If your rose is especially vigorous, you may have to pinch it a second time three to five weeks later.

Understand that doing all this will delay the appearance of flowers on your plant. It will still bloom as beautifully as it has in the past; it will just do it a bit later in the season.

The final word I have on this is that there are a lot of different varieties of roses out there. Some are naturally tall and lanky, and others are short and compact.

It may be that you would be happier with a different rose in that spot. If that’s the case, consider the shorter shrub rose varieties, the Floribundas or even a miniature rose. There’s still some variation in size among these groups, but they will tend to stay smaller and more compact for you.

When would be the best time to transplant a 5-year-old elm tree?



The best time to transplant is mid- to late March.

You could transplant later this fall after the leaves have dropped, but I don’t like that as well as for transplanting trees as the spring.

Winter can be a stressful thing for plants and sometimes adding the additional stress of transplanting can push the plant over the edge. Let the plant get through the winter, and then do the transplanting before it breaks bud next year.

So if you have the luxury of time, wait. Otherwise, I’d try to wait until the leaves are off the tree.


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