Behind the Fence

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Time to Prune!

Last week I was invited to attend the Perennial Garden Club’s monthly meeting. Guest speaker, Richard Montgomery form Montgomery Gardens Nursery shared some advice on growing roses. I wouldn’t describe myself as a rose grower but I do have a few and I appreciated learning the following tips.

Expect a shortage of roses this year due to the economy. Some long standing rose growers either went out of business, filed bankruptcy or elected to plant fewer roses. If you have a certain rose in mind to add to your garden, order early.

When selecting a rose, chose one that is 2 years old and is labeled grade 1.

While improvements have been made to decrease diseases, no rose is totally “disease free.” Some are more disease resistant than others; the thicker and glossier the leaves, the more resistant the rose.

 Location, location, location! While a rose might survive, it will not flourish unless it gets a minimal of 6 hours of sun a day.

 Plant the rose in well drained soil, adding compost with manure to the hole. Water in well, even if rain is expected. Watering- in after planting forces out air pockets. If air pockets are not removed, the roots will dry out and damage the plant.

 Roses must be pruned to maintain size and shape. Trim shrub roses to about knee high in January (its okay to prune now if it wasn’t done last month.) Remove dead and crossing canes. Knock Out roses will get very large if not pruned. Richard said to go ahead and use an electric hedge trimmer on the Knock Outs, they won’t mind a bit. Climbing roses can be cut back or not, depending on what you want from the bush. If you want it to cover something like a trellis, you may not want to trim it. Still go in and cut the dead and crossing canes. Important, before you prune check to see if your rose blooms on old or new wood.  If the species you are pruning blooms on old wood and you cut the cane, there will not be many blooms. During the growing season, dead heading spent blooms and hips will encourage additional blooms.

Neem oil is the best and most environmentally friendly insecticide and pesticide on the market. To prevent burning the leaves, spray when temp is below 85°; early morning is a good time, so the foliage will have time to dry before night time.

 Fertilizer with a systemic insecticide is a good choice. Avoid time released fertilizers like Osmocote, which can release too much fertilizer if the temperature gets too warm. At the nursery, Richard uses Ferti-Lome Rose and Flower Food.

 Most all roses can be grown in containers. They will survive if the roots are not frozen for more than 3 or 4 days. It is a good idea to move them into a garage when the temperature dips into the teens. To maintain the size that works well for the container, remove the plant, trim the roots and repot every couple of years.  

Richard recommended the Home Run Series as an alternative to Knock Out if a color other than red is desired.  Information on the Home Run roses and other roses as well as growing information can be found at And of course, Richard would be quite happy to answer questions at his nursery, Montgomery Gardens, 2665 Holt Road, Paducah.

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