Gardening Advice

Prune to prevent the rose plant

The period

Prune to prevent the rose plant from losing its lower leaves and to renew the shoots so as to ensure exceptional blooms all year round.
March is the best time of year to prune rose plants, whether they are the shrub, standard or climbing variety. The last hard frosts have passed and, if the days have been reasonably mild, the buds will have formed, so there is less chance of going wrong. In addition, late pruning prevents the risk of disease, because the cuts heal over quickly.

General rules

Always use a sharp pair of secateurs, and disinfect them with methylated spirits before moving on to the next plant.
Take the time to look at the result of last year’s pruning, so as not to make the same mistakes again.
Aim for harmoniously shaped, balanced heads which are not lopsided.
Remove any dead wood, unnecessary twigs and branches blackened by cankers.
Never put prunings in the compost.

Shrub roses and standard roses

Remove any suckers from below the graft; they have seven leaves rather than five like healthy branches.
Clip any old main branches at the base of the plant, keeping no more than three to seven branches forming a cup shape and leaving the centre of the plant well spaced.
Cut back the remaining main stems, making a clean cut 3 mm above the third bud eye from the bottom, angled away from the bud eye so that rainwater will not flow onto it.
Lastly, if your rose plant is very vigorous, i.e. each year it produces shoots rising to over 1.5 m above its base, the main stems must be cut back to five or six bud eyes, because severe pruning results in proportional regrowth.

Climbing roses

The same general principles as for bush or shrub roses apply: the healthy main branches should be kept, renewed if necessary, and trained horizontally.
On these horizontally trained main branches, a few secondary branches should be kept and cut back to three bud eyes; it is these that will flower in summer.

Once-flowering roses

Once-flowering roses, which produce a single, magnificent bloom in summer, require a different pruning method. Pruning is carried out in September, by removing any twigs and dead or diseased branches and cutting back those that have just flowered.

Diseases and treatments

  • In autumn and winter – after pruning in November, when the leaves fall, and after pruning in March – treat with a copper-based fungicide.

  • After November pruning, spray with:
    Bordeaux mixture or Bayer Garden. Dose: 250 g for 10 litres.

  • Once during the winter (by milder weather in January), spray with:
    Copper hydroxide (Héliocuivre). Dose: 40 ml for 10 litres.

  • After March pruning, spray with Bordeaux mixture or Bayer Garden. Dose: 250 g for 10 litres.

Rose powdery mildew

This very common disease often appears in spring and is caused by a fungus which likes the early warmth and the humidity of our region.
Prevention: avoid excessive manuring around the base of the rose plants, do not get the leaves wet when watering, and choose varieties not susceptible to powdery mildew (www.roses-anciennes-eve.com)
Treatment: As soon as symptoms appear (a white coating on the leaves),
spray with wettable or micronised sulphur (unless the temperature is above 25°C). Dose: 75 g for 10 litres.
Subsequently, according to the climatic conditions and the susceptibility of your rose plants, a silica-based fungicide such as horsetail extract can be applied every two weeks by way of prevention. Dose: 0.5 litres in 10 litres of water for spraying.

Rose black spot

Black spot is a fairly widespread disease caused by a fungus, which develops in damp weather from spring to autumn. The appearance of black spots coincides with the leaves turning yellow, drying out and falling early. One preventive solution is to fortify the plant so that it resists the diseases by itself, for which frequent spraying with a 15% solution of nettle extract is recommended.
Treatment: From June onwards, the plants must be sprayed every two weeks, or more in dry weather, alternating copper-based (Bordeaux mixture), silica-based (horsetail extract) and plant-based fungicides.
We can recommend the preventive fungicide HF, made from fennel essential oil, sold by Hector (www.hector-produits-naturels.com). Dilute 40 ml of HF in 10 litres of water, repeating every ten days.

Laurent Portuguez
head gardener 

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