“Deadheading” is the simple practice of manually removing any spent, faded, withered, or discoloured flowers from rose shrubs over the course of the blooming season. The purpose of deadheading is to encourage the plant to focus its energy and resources on forming new offshoots and blooms, rather than in fruit production. Deadheading may also be performed, if spent flowers are unsightly, for aesthetic purposes. Roses are particularly responsive to deadheading. Deadheading should be done by taking the stem down to the first 5-leaflet leaf, not just the base of the flower. This encourages further branching and flower production.

Find more information on spring flowering bulbs here.

Deadheading causes different effects on different varieties of roses. For continual blooming varieties, whether Old Garden roses or more modern hybrid varieties, deadheading allows the rose plant to continue forming new shoots, leaves, and blooms. For “once-blooming” varieties (that bloom only once each season), deadheading has the effect of causing the plant to form new green growth, even though new blooms will not form until the next blooming season.

For most rose gardeners, deadheading is used to refresh the growth of the rose plants to keep the rose plants strong, vibrant, and productive.

Species roses such as Rosa glauca or Rosa moyesii – those which produce good hips – should not be deadheaded.

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Rose Pruning

Rose pruning, sometimes regarded as a horticultural art form, is largely dependent on the type of rose to be pruned, the reason for pruning, and the time of year it is at the time of the desired pruning.

Most Old Garden Roses of strict European heritage (albas, damasks, gallicas, etc.) are shrubs that bloom once yearly, in late spring or early summer, on two-year-old (or older) canes. As such, their pruning requirements are quite minimal, and are overall similar to any other analogous shrub, such as lilac or forsythia. Generally, only old, spindly canes should be pruned away, to make room for new canes. One year old canes should never be pruned because doing so will remove next year’s flower buds. The shrubs can also be pruned back lightly, immediately after the blooms fade, to reduce the overall height or width of the plant. In general, pruning requirements for OGRs are much less laborious and regimented than for Modern hybrids.

Modern hybrids, including the hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, modern miniatures, and English roses, have a complex genetic background that almost always includes China roses (R. chinensis). China roses were evergrowing, everblooming roses from humid subtropical regions that bloomed constantly on any new vegetative growth produced during the growing season. Their modern hybrid descendants exhibit similar habits; unlike Old European Roses, modern hybrids bloom continuously (until stopped by frost) on any new canes produced during the growing season. They therefore require pruning away of any spent flowering stem in order to divert the plant’s energy into producing new growth and hence new flowers.

Additionally, Modern Hybrids planted in cold winter climates will almost universally require a “hard” annual pruning (reducing all canes to 8″–12″ in height) in early spring. Again, because of their complex China rose background, modern hybrids are typically not as cold hardy as European OGRs, and low winter temperatures often desiccate or kill exposed canes. In spring, if left unpruned, these damaged canes will often die back all the way to the shrub’s root zone, resulting in a weakened, disfigured plant. The annual “hard” pruning of hybrid teas, floribundas, etc. should generally be done in early spring; most gardeners coincide this pruning with the blooming of forsythia shrubs. Canes should be cut about 1/2″ above a vegetative bud (identifiable as a point on a cane where a leaf once grew).

For both Old Garden Roses and Modern Hybrids, any weak, damaged or diseased growth should be pruned away completely, regardless of the time of year. Any pruning of any rose should also be done so that the cut is made at a forty five degree angle above a vegetative bud. This helps the pruned stem callus over more quickly, and also mitigates moisture buildup over the cut, which can lead to disease problems.

For all general rose pruning (including cutting flowers for arrangements), sharp secateurs (hand-held, sickle-bladed pruners) should be used to cut any growth 1/2″ or less in diameter. For canes of a thickness greater than 1/2″, pole loppers or a small handsaw are generally more effective; secateurs may be damaged or broken in such instances.

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Carpet Roses

These may not be officially recognized as a separate class of roses by any established rose authority, Carpet roses ( also known as Flower Carpet) are recognized by consumers, landscapers and industry alike. Werner Noack (Germany) started his breeding of disease resistant roses in 1965. He was passionate about roses, but did not believe that with all the diseases in roses that they would appeal to gardeners over the long term. In 1989 he introduced his first Flower Carpet rose, Flower Carpet Pink. Besides unprecedented disease tolerance, it had longest flowering of nearly any roses (from 5–9 months depending on climate) did not require any fancy pruning, could be cut back with shears, clippers or by tractor slashing (doesn’t matter whether cut back 1/3, or to soil level) and all of this on nice lush bright green foliage.

Continual development and a strong breeding program saw different colours of Flower Carpet roses become available: White, Appleblossom, Red, Yellow, Gold, and Coral. During this time breeding has continued under his son, Reinhard Noack. Further breeding saw in 2007 the introduction of his Next Generation breeding with Flower Carpet Pink Supreme, Scarlet, and Amber. In addition to all the aforementioned attributes, these are at home in even warmer climatic conditions up to 42C.

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