Miss Floribunda - March 2008

Dear Miss Floribunda,

I have four rose bushes but hope to have a full fledged tea-rose garden some day. I know that pruning is important, especially spring pruning.  Is there some particular date to prune?  Can you give me some tips about how to go about it? I've read some books and looked at some pictures, but am still unclear on the concept.

Budding But Befuddled Rosarian on Hamilton Street

Dear Budding Rosarian,

Yes, pruning is very important, especially in spring.  There is, however, no specific date for this although most rosarians prune some time in March.  Every neighborhood has its own microclimate. The most skillful and expert prunester I know is my friend Citizen Cane, and he gets round this by advising rosarians to prune their rose bushes when the forsythia in their own neighborhood blooms--whenever that happens.  It varies year to year and can even happen in late
February.

One of Citizen Cane's pupils, Prunella Thornton,  has agreed to give a hands-on demonstration at the March 15 meeting of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society. HHS had hoped to engage the master himself, but he must serve as judge at an American Rose Society show on that date and has promised to come later to speak on ways to get your roses
safely through the brutal heat of mid summer. Ms. Thornton will bring potted roses and show you how to distinguish between temporary frost damage and really dead wood, which must be lopped off, how to combat the depredations  of cane borers, how to recognize the bud swellings above which the gardener must cut--at a slant--and answer any
questions. Please bring your pruning shears if you wish to try your hand.