Deadheading and Summer or Fall Pruning:
Keeping Your Roses Looking Good

Routine Maintenence During The Season Keeps Lets Your Roses Bloom More and Keep Your Garden Under Control.
Rose Informational Page

by Bob Bauer
What Is Deadheading?
Yes, Jerry Garcia is dead and gone. So what is all of this talk about deadheading. Deadheading is the removal of the dead flower heads from your rose bushes in order to get them to bloom more. The theory is that when you remove the bloom before the plant is able to form seed pods (rose hips), the plant will want to put out more blooms in its drive to reproduce. Believe it or not, this actually works, and works well. Most modern roses will rebloom about 6 weeks after you remove the old dead blooms. Some will rebloom in as few as 4 weeks, and some take up to 10 weeks to rebloom, but rebloom they will. Most roses produce blooms on the terminal growth of new branches. The new growth will occur at the first bud below where you cut off the bloom.
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Deadheading Techniques
There are several theories of what the best way to deadhead are. The oldest and most common technique is to cut the cane down from the spent bloom to 1/4 inch above the first leaf cluster with 5 leaflets using hand pruners. Using this technique you can also prune further down the cane to the bud that is pointing in the direction you want the branch to grow. The plant will grow in the direction that the bud is facing. Another techique that results in more blooming, is to just break off the topmost part of the bloom down to the first tiny little leaves (called bracts). This can be easily done with your hand and eliminates the need for using hand pruning secateurs. This technique results in more branching. Virtually every flower will result in a new branch, and those new branches will all terminate with new flowers. The tradeoff is that you will have more blooms, but slightly smaller blooms. I myself use this second technique, but rose gardeners who want to competetively exhibit their blooms should not use this second method.
A great shrub for the garden
'Sally Holmes'
When To Deadhead And When To Stop
Deadheading is something that you should start doing with your first crop of blooms and continue through the entire season. They way to look at this is to just do a few every day as you wander your rose garden looking at the new blooms. This is
a ritual that I can safely say MOST rose lovers come to truly enjoy: Wandering the garden, sniffing and admiring the new blooms and deadheading the old ones. This is what got me addicted to roses myself. I look forward to wandering my garden in the early morning with a hot beverage in hand, just enjoying nature and puttering. You can easily get to know the growth characteristics of each individual variety this way. In general you should stop deadheading about 6 weeks before the killing frosts occur in your area. If you are in an area without a true winter you might want to stop about 6 weeks before you introduce some sort of artificial dormancy, whether that is by defoliating or hard pruning of the plants.
Mauve and Orange rose
'Distant Drums'
Summer Pruning For Once Blooming Varieties
Once blooming roses need to be pruned differently than recurrent blooming roses. These roses do not need to be deadheaded, but they DO need their yearly pruning. Most once blooming varieties will bloom for a period of 3 to 6 weeks. After the blooming period is over is the time to prune these plants. What you will want to do in most cases is to do the major pruning of the plant at this time. Prune the branches back to about 2 or three feet of where you want the bush to be next spring. DO NOT prune them in the spring when you are pruning your other varieties. Most of these varieties will bloom on the branches that were grown the previous summer after they have bloomed. Pruning in the summer after blooming will stimulate new growth and they will still have several months to grow so that there will be plenty of 'old wood' ready to bloom its head off next spring or summer. After you have done your summer pruning, do not deadhead! Leave the blooms on and let them form rose hips. Rose hips are a second show that most of these varieties will put on in the fall and winter.
Summer Pruning For Growth Control
During the summer you will notice that some of your roses are growing too big and getting out of control. Feel free to cut them back to the size you want them to be, it will not hurt them. You can do this any time of the Summer or Fall. There are many modern varieties that have been bred to have long stems. Keep a special eye on these varieties and either cut the blooms for long stemmed cut flowers for your home or deadhead them with long stems. Some varieties of roses can quickly get out of control and grow 10 feet tall. It is not uncommon to cut 3 foot stems off of some of these varieties when you deadhead. For example, 'Peace' can have a tendency to do this if it is grown in a healthy location and is well fed. If you can't see the blooms because they are too tall, what good does it do you? Realize that you are the boss and the roses will do what you want them to do, if you keep an eye on them and prune back when you have to. Don't worry, it will not hurt them.
Preventitive Fall Pruning
For those areas with true winter seasons, you should get your roses ready for their winter sleep after the first killing frost or BEFORE the first big winter snowstorm. The reason you want to prune at this time is to prevent winter damage to the plant from the breaking off of large canes. Take a look at each bush and lop off all of the large candelabras on the end of tall canes. This is the point at which accumulating snow can breat the whole cane off. Also big crossing branches need to be removed so that they don't saw each other to death during winter wind storms. Any long whiplike canes that could cause damage to itself or other plants should be removed. DO NOT, however do your major pruning at this time. Your roses need to use the stored energy from the canes in order to survive winter in a health fashion. Major Pruning of modern recurrent varieties should only be done in the spring in areas with a true winter.

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