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February Is Rose Pruning Time...Attend Rose Care Seminar to Learn How

by William M. Johnson
February 16, 2005

Gardening: Rose imsgeA beautiful rose from your very own garden is always a marvel to behold. The month of February is a busy time for gardeners who already have roses or who plan to make that first step toward growing their own. Texas Master John Jons will provide a seminar and pruning demonstrations on hybrid tea roses on Saturday, February 19. Moonstone Rose Photo credit: John Jons

Roses play an intimate role in our daily lives even though we don't often think about the subject. Major events in our lives are usually celebrated with roses playing a consecrated role from birth, graduation, citizenship, and marriage, as well as anniversary occasions.

Our love affair with roses spans the generation of time–roses definitely rank as a favorite landscape plant for area gardeners. The month of February is a busy time for gardeners who already have roses or who plan to make that first step toward growing their own.

A beautiful rose from your very own garden is always a marvel to behold. Experienced and novice rose growers purchase thousands of bushes annually in anticipation of the beauty which they can produce. In Texas, where everything is bigger and better, rose growing is no exception.

Roses come in a wide variety of types. For most folks, when you say "rose," the modern hybrid tea rose, with its pointed bud, brilliant color and picture-perfect form, generally comes to mind. You can duplicate those beautiful pictures of roses you see in mail order catalogs if you select varieties suitable to our growing conditions, plant them correctly and provide proper care thereafter.

Yes, February is prime rose-planting time to establishing new plantings. Our national floral symbol deserves as prominent a place in the yard as it has ever had since colonial times as pioneers crossed the country and brought their favorite roses with them.

All roses do best when provided full-exposure to sun, but they can provide reasonably good performance in areas receiving not less than 6 hours of direct sun. If you have to choose between the east or west side of a home, pick the east side. The early morning rays of the sun will more quickly dry leaves, thus reducing the potential of disease problems such as fungal leafspot.

There should be plenty of air circulation in the spot you chose for the same reason of reducing disease problems. Don't crowd your plants, and don't stick them in a still corner of the yard. An open, sunny bed will give your plants room to grow and 'show their stuff'.

Roses do not like poorly drained soils which stay waterlogged after a heavy rain. The best rose soils drain quickly after an irrigation or a heavy rain while not drying out quickly. If you have a heavy clay soil (as most areas here do), build a raised bed to provide better drainage. And whether you have clay or sandy soil, add plenty of organic matter like compost.

When should roses be pruned? For those who have a fondness for the ever popular hybrid tea rose, the time to prune was during the first 14 days of February. For those who are dyed-in-wool Rosarians, then the fourteenth day of February–Valentine's Day–was the day. Rosarians in the Galveston/Harris County area are among the best in the United States and many do their major pruning on February 14. Call it superstitious or romanticism or what you will, but it works. They have the trophies to prove it.

However, for those who didn’t make the Valentine Day target pruning date, pruning your roses as soon as possible will still provide rosy rewards. And to cover all bets, if you didn’t get roses from the florist for your Valentine and need redemption points, now is an excellent time to plant roses so you can have a ready supply for the remainder of the year!

Nevertheless, now is the ideal time to prune hybrid tea roses. Annual heavy pruning is essential to insure the prolific bloom and long-life of hybrid teas. If roses are not pruned for a number of years, plants will deteriorate in appearance and often develop more than the usual disease and insect problems, while the flowers tend to become smaller and smaller.

You will need the following items: a good pair of quality hand pruners (preferably the scissor type not the anvil type) and a pair of thick leather gloves. A pair of large loppers is also worthwhile if you have several roses to prune. Oh yes, add a long-sleeved shirt to the list unless you're the macho type. Explaining the concept of rose pruning without a live bush to demonstrate on is difficult, so read on for information on an educational program on hybrid tea roses.

If you’re interested in getting a fall bloom cycle from your roses, be sure to pencil in a notation on your "Weekend Things-To-Do-List" to reserve a seat at for our program on "You Can Grow Hybrid Tea Roses." Pass the word also to all your rose-loving friends and neighbors that Saturday, February 19, is the date set for this presentation provided by John Jons, a Certified Texas Master Gardener and expert rose grower.

The presentation will be held from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m. at the County Extension Office located at 5115 Highway 3 in Dickinson. In addition to proper pruning techniques being demonstrated, variety selection, planting methods, fertilization, and insect and disease management will be discussed.

The presentation is free-of-charge but pre-registration is requested due to space limitations (GALV3@wt.net or 281-534-3413, ext. 6).

If roses aren't already a part of your landscape, now is the ideal time to establish and/or prune the "queen of flowers" that, with a little care, will reward you with color, fragrance and beauty from early spring to late fall.

Dr. Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County
Extension Office of Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A&M University. Visit his web site at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/index.htm

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