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Roses -Winter pruning

celcius_kkwcelcius_kkw Posts: 717
edited February 2020 in Plants
This is my first year of growing roses and I am just about to start the major winter pruning of my first year roses in pots. 

Has anyone started doing this yet? I live in Liverpool so the weather is not the coldest and the temperature has been consistently above 0 for a couple of weeks now. 

Most of my roses have not naturally defoliated (all but a couple are David Austin). So far I have pruned a few quite extensively - I have manually defoliated them and trimmed back to about 20cm above ground. 

Few questions I have in mind though: 

1. I have added little pebbles to some of my pots and I wonder if I should scoop them all up in order to allow me to clear away any dead foliage in the soil more effectively? 

2. Given it’s been a rather wet winter some of the top layer of soil in my pots have turned green with algae, should I dig that layer up and add some fresh compost instead? If so, should I do it now or wait till it’s a bit warmer in spring? 

3. Mulching and fertilising - again should I do it now straight after the major pruning or should I wait till March. 

4. Some of my roses are already showing signs of growth with new shoots already popping up.. should I trim down to below the new shoot? Also if there is clearly a bud eye or even new shoot that is inward facing should I manually pick them off to prevent them clogging up the centre of the plant in summer? 

5. A lot of rose gardens seem to be able to get all their roses to bloom at the same time and generate a really impressive sea of roses in summer - is there any way of doing this as the amateur gardener? I’m planning to prune all my roses around the same time in the hope of achieving this...

I’ll post some pictures later on, would love to see how you guys prune your roses too. :) David Austin website says one should aim to achieve a rounded shrub with the pruning but does that mean the outer canes should be trimmed shorter than the ones in the middle? Is there some sort of rule or trick to get it look ‘rounded’ ? 

I’m going to tag @[email protected] too for some extra advice :) 



  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 6,364
    edited February 2020
    Hi Adrian,... nice to 'see' you again.... hope you had a good Christmas up there on the Mersey...
    I will answer your questions shortly, with a photo or two...  
  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 6,364
    First... don't worry too much about the weather... I prune my roses anywhere from November to February... if any shoots get burned off with frost [it would have to be severe], another bud will form to take over.. each shoot you see has another 2 dormant buds either side, you cannot always see them, but they're there...

    Prune your roses after you have followed these procedures...

    1.  You can do this now... scrape away the pebbles... remove the top 2 inches of soil from each pot.. use whatever tool you need, don't worry about damaging roots at the surface..  replace with fresh preferably soil based compost of your choice [JI No. 3 is best, mixed with some Multi Purpose to lighten it - I also add in a small amount of composted manure]…   in early March, feed your plants with pelletized fertilizer then reapply your pebble or shingle top mulch..

    2. see 1 above...yes remove algae with above procedure..
    3. see 1 above... 
    4. There's no need to worry about inward facing buds... your roses need all the leaves it can manage.. more leaves means more blooms.. however you can prune back to outward facing if you wish..

    5. Well, in the garden, most roses will start blooming from mid May, and nearly all of them will have flowers by early June, so it looks coordinated... some exceptions amongst species and old roses but you're not growing those..
    ...but in pots they are more dependent on you, and we're not doing the Chelsea Flower Show, where they keep their roses in heated greenhouses to flower all at once.. so you might find one is a bit behind the others....   Roses have their own time when they will flower so if you're not bringing them on with heat, then we just have to let them do it in their own time really..  there wouldn't normally be a huge gap.  You can only manipulate it with heat..
    I'll post a couple of pics of my potted roses, which I've recently pruned back,  to show the rounded and open shape...
  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 6,364
    ...the advice for pruning DA roses is different when grown in pots, than in the ground..
    one has to follow potted rose procedures which means harder pruning..
    Here you can see I've tried to keep the canes roughly the same length, about 8 inches,  and an open centre.. all these roses have been repotted or as described in no. 1 above.. and I will feed with pelleted fertilizer early March, then top dress with a gravel covering I expect...

    best of luck with your roses... 
  • celcius_kkwcelcius_kkw Posts: 717
    edited February 2020
    @Marlorena Thank you so much. Yes I’ve been lying rather dormant much like the roses over the last few months. 

    With regards to digging up the pebbles and stones - is there an easy way to separate the old soil and dead foliage from them so that I don’t put back the whole lot back with the stones back to the pot again? I can’t see myself having the patience to separate them one by one 🤨

    I’ve got two climbers Claire Austin and Etoile de Holland - both seem to have numerous canes arising from the base with multiple branches arising from these - much like a shrub rose, which I find odd. I understand I must not prune the main canes but given the number of shoots there are from the base it’s difficult to see which one is a main cane and which one isn’t. Should I just select 2 or 3 of the strongest canes and prune the rest so that the plant can channel all its energy into growing those few canes? I haven’t got a huge trellis so I don’t think I’ll need all those canes anyway? 

  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 6,364

    ...just remove the largest of the dead foliage and algae... small bits not worth worrying about... but what I do as I have a garden and greenhouse is reuse it elsewhere and reapply fresh... you don't have to spend time picking every last piece out though, that's way too fussy for most people..

    ...yes you can prune out any canes you don't want... you're in charge of the shape of your rose, so you keep what you want and remove what you feel you don't need.. some roses throw up a lot from the base, you can prune out any surplus but the rose will likely send up more at some point. I have also found that it disappoints the rose a bit so you don't want to keep removing everything...3 canes is good to form a framework..
    When you have too many, prune out the oldest, to leave the youngest freshest green wood... but this is some way down the line for you...
  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 6,364
    I should add, you do realise Etoile de Hollande is a vigorous climber don't you... ?  I mean we're talking 20 foot or so.. I would have trouble keeping that under 10 feet.. 
  • @Marlorena cheers for the advice once again, I can’t wait to see what spring and summer have in store for me with regards to my roses, will be sure to share them here. 

    I must say I was rather clueless when I bought etoile de hollande, all I knew was I wanted a very fragrant red climber to complement Claire Austin.. it didn’t grow a lot last season and has remained a manageable size.. I suppose if it does go mental I could just prune it back? 
  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 6,364
    @celcius_kkw … you will have to, yes.. although the pot will constrain it, but eventually it will need dealing with, both roots and top growth... I've never grown a rose with that potential in a pot before.. when I had it in the ground I got some nice blooms in the first year, when about 5 foot tall, which is do-able for a pot, but after that it takes off and you will just have to manage it as you go... the way you prune this rose is to cut back the lateral shoots coming off the main framework, back to 2 or 3  bud eyes.. if you don't do that, you'll have an awful mess of a gangly rose on your hands...
  • celcius_kkwcelcius_kkw Posts: 717
    edited February 2020
    @Marlorena Here are some pictures of my pruned roses.. I have gone pretty heavy handed because many of them have grown rather massive in their pots..

    my royal William is doing a rather unusual thing of sending up lots of new shoots from the ground.. I think I might have pruned it wrong.. it looks a little ugly now lol 

    And lastly my climbers.. as you can see the first one Claire Austin has lots of canes.. I’ve trimmed it down to these now but thought I would leave it a bit and see which one grows the best and I’ll prune the rest. 

    And etoile de hollande - there is one obvious main cane that is doing well but there is another one in the centre that gives off two canes both seemingly strong in growth.. but I’m under the impression that a main cane has to arise from the bud union.. these two branches both arise from one main cane and are indistinguishable from one another.. should I keep both or just keep one? 

    My balcony is now looking very bare after all the pruning.. and I have yet to clear out the top layer of soil/pebbles

  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 6,364
    edited February 2020
    @celcius_kkw ... Adrian, you have fabulous roses in pots... and superbly pruned... nice rounded roses...
    with Claire Austin, all I would do there is trim off bits at the top back to a growing shoot... with Etoile I would keep those canes, they will help form your framework and any that shoot up from the base this year... there isn't enough there to mess about with right now, so just leave them grow and tie in to trellis... these old hybrid tea climbers have weird growth habits, so we have to get used to that..

    With your Royal William, lovely red shoots, keep all those, they will help form the rounded plant you're looking for..

    You've done the hard work really...  thanks for the does help to know what's going on, I wish more people would do it when asking questions..

    ...oh, and what a lovely place to sit out, on a sunny day... 
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