It’s time to get out those sharp pruners and disinfectant wipes and prune your roses.
Make sure you have some tough gloves and long sleeved shirt on and it would be a good idea to wear some eye protection, too. As the rosebuds start to swell, get a mental image of how you want them to look. There are many cultivars of roses and understanding which one you have is important.
If I were to prune a floribunda or hybrid tea rose, I look to have three or four good strong canes, about eight to 12 inches above graft. When pruning make sure the canes are well spaced and the buds you prune are facing outward. Strip all the leaves off, making sure you get all things clean underneath.
Make sure all dead canes are out too, as well as anything coming below the graft.
Shrub roses are easier to prune. I first prune out all dead canes and those that are bridle and non-productive. Then, I look at any major cross branches and prune them to the ground. At waist level, deadhead the old blooms.
Climbing and rambling roses have to have all the dead canes out. Do you have it trained on a structure? I like to have a cane or two spaced along the structure. If you like you can take the old cane out and train a new one.
The key is to prune to make way for good air flow.
After pruning it is time to clean up all debris and weeds out of the bed. I like to mulch with some good aged compost. If you like you can sprinkle some rabbit food before the compost. Remember, feeding the soil will help the plant better battle the insects and disease problems that occur.
I’ve been asked if you can use newspaper as a weed block. Many newspapers now use soy based ink so it is safe. I like to use cardboard. Weed the area and lay down the newspaper or cardboard. Then mulch. It’s a nice organic way to fight the battle of weeds.