This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
BY MR. M'ARDELL, FOREMAN, CASTLE HILL GARDENS.
The interesting article on Roses in your last Number has induced me to offer a few remarks on pruning, which I trust may prove instructive to the young Rose-grower.
As regards the time for pruning, some recommend autumn or winter, while others advise its being done in the beginning of March. I, as well as most Rose-growers, like the latter season best. By winter-pruning the buds break in the latter part of the winter, and are almost sure to be cut off by late frosts in March.
Pruning effects two objects: it makes compact handsome trees, free from weak shoots and dead wood, and it increases the amount of floral beauty throughout the summer and autumn. It is susceptible of three divisions: first long, second moderate, and third close pruning.
Long pruning is employed for all strong, vigorous, free-growing kinds. The consequence of a vigorous-growing Rose being close pruned is, that it will make a quantity of strong shoots, generally springing from the crown close to the stock, and very likely no flower during the whole year, at all events, not until late in autumn. The proper plan is, to leave from five to eight strong shoots, placed as regularly as possible, to cut them back, so as to leave four or five buds of last year's wood, and then carefully to prune away all weak and dead branches. Roses do not flower well in the centre of the bush, and therefore that part should be well thinned out, leaving the branches as free of each other as possible. As a general rule, it is not right to cut into the bush below the preceding year's wood; but when the trees become old, it is necessary now and then to cut away a portion of the old wood, which becomes clubbed; and this applies more or less to all Rose-trees. It should be removed with a nice small saw, and the wound afterwards smoothed over with the pruning-knife. These remarks apply to most of the Hybrid Chinas and Hybrid Bourbons, also to some of the Hybrid Provence, Hybrid Perpetuals, and Bourbons.
Moderate pruning consists in using the knife more freely than in the former case, in leaving but two eyes of last year's wood, and in carefully training the branches, so as to make the head round and compact. As Roses that require moderate pruning have a greater natural tendency to flower than those in the last-mentioned class, a little inattention is not so injurious to them. Under this head may be enumerated the greater part of our newest and best Roses, including the Moss, Gallica, Damask, Hybrid Damask Perpetual, and a great portion of the best Hybrid Perpetuals and Bourbons.
The third method, or close-pruning system, is used for those Roses which are termed Dwarf growers, or that make but little wood. This class is not numerous in comparison with the others, but it contains many of the brightest gems of the rosery. They succeed better on dwarf stocks than on those of four or five feet in height. In some cases they are shy growers, and apt to overflower their strength. This is obviated by close pruning, as the strongest shoots come from the crown; and as it is the interest of the grower to get wood in this class, the last year's shoots should be cut away pretty freely. Under this head may be classed a few of the best Moss Roses, and many Hybrid Perpetuals, Damask Perpetuals, and some of the Bourbon tribe.
A few words on pruning Yellow-brier Roses, and I have done. Roses of this class are peculiar in their flowering, and therefore require peculiar pruning. They are very early bloomers, and make no wood previous to flowering. They generally put forth the leaf and bud about one time; it is therefore necessary that as much as possible of last year's wood be retained, particularly the ends of the branches, from whence most of the flowers proceed. The method that must be pursued in order to get as much flowering wood as possible, is not to prune them when other Roses are pruned, but shortly after they have done flowering, leaving three or four branches a little shortened. The rest must be cut well back, when they will make good flowering wood the remainder of the season, and ripen it well.