Linda Cranfill, Master Gardener
Because of some unseasonal warm days in January or February gardeners think about pruning and preparing for spring. According to the 2017 Farmer’s Almanac our last freeze should be around April 16th. It is tempting to prune roses too early because we get warm weather and the roses start to produce buds, but wait. If you prune too early a late freeze will damage the new growth generated from the pruning. The best time to prune roses in West Texas is after the last freeze. A local rose specialist says if you want roses on Mother’s day, trim 60 days prior.
Take out diseased roses and prepare the beds for new plantings by putting in good compost. Mix in the compost and cover with 3 to 4 inches of free wood mulch provided by the cities of Midland or Odessa. Allow this to break down for the remaining two to three months and you will have great soil for your new plantings.
All my research on pruning suggest the following: 1: Cut out all dead, cracked, and dull old canes at the union bud. Do not cut into thick, old wood unless removing the cane entirely. 2: Thin out branches growing into the center of the plant and crossed branches. To prevent new growth into the center, rub off buds facing in that direction. 3: If sucker shoots have developed (growth coming from below the graft that does not look like the rest of the bush) remove soil around the base to uncover the point where the sucker emerges and remove completely even if you have to cut into the root. 4: Follow the tips for your particular type of rose.
Hybrid teas and Grandifloras: Cut back young canes by one-third to one-half. Prune yellow-flowered hybrid teas less severely.
Floribundas: Cut back new canes one-fourth to one-third and 2 year-old stems by half. Remove 3-year old canes at the bud union.
Climbers: Remove canes more than 4 years old at the base. Leave any first-year canes that have not yet bloomed. Tie three or four canes in a horizontal position to encourage growth of stems.
Shrub roses, old-fashioned, and species roses: In most cases, prune only lightly to shape plants and remove dead and damaged growth. Knock Out roses and drift roses fall into this type of rose.
Relax and wait for those first, most welcomed blooms!