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Friday, December 09, 2011

The Buena Vista Garden, by Yarddawg

I received an e-mail question from longtime Life In Forsyth reader AT about rose bush pruning and I thought I'd share it for those interested in thorny issues.

Hi Doug! I have a quick question about rose bushes. My daughters and I planted a knockout rose bush at our house in Wilson in '06 on the one year anniversary of my mother's death. It's a special rose bush. When we moved to W-S, in Nov of '08, I cut the bush entirely down and transplanted in a nursery pot. I replanted at our new house in Jan '09. The rose bush has flourished and has really taken off. I love it, it always blooms a lot for special times, like my daughter's birthdays, as if my Mom is saying "hi!"

I haven't done much pruning since then, just a little here and there. But a couple of weeks ago, I got a wild hair and really cut it back. Now I'm realizing it's not the right time to do so. Too late now. I'm attaching a photo of the massacre. Worst thing is I did it on my birthday, perhaps I was taking it out on Mom for not being here? Hmmm... Anyway, my question to you is, have I killed this special bush, and if not, is there anything I should do to protect it during freezes?

Thank you so much! - Amy


Dear Amy,

The rose bush and your mom will forgive you. It should be just fine.

The best time to to prune roses is in late winter, late Feb/early March, but pruning can be done anytime you feel it looks worn out. Pruning to about 12-18 inches from the ground seems to reinvigorate them.

Fertilize in spring when signs of growth appear, but again, away from the canes. This is when I like to add about an inch of composted cow manure ( Black Kow works fine) Think of where the foliage was before you pruned it. That's where the feeder roots are.

I wouldn't do anything else special. A normal winter or even below normal temperature season shouldn't matter. Like with many other plants a rare sub-zero clipper can be more iffy. If that happens wait until late spring or early summer before assuming the worst.

Mulch around the plant with some organic mulch (pine straw or pine bark mulch is fine) but try to keep the mulch slightly away from the main canes. You're trying to protect the root system.

- Yarddawg
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