This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Considerable diversity of opinion has been expressed from time to time as to the best method of growing this rose, some asserting that it does best on its own roots, others being equally sanguine that it succeeds most satisfactorily on the seedling brier or some other stock. Leaving these differences out of the question for the present, permit me to allude to another peculiarity in the cultivation of Marechal Niel, and that is the time at which it should be pruned, and also how that operation ought to be performed. When in a semi-dormant state this rose dislikes much knife work. Several examples of it planted out here two years ago, and which were unusually strong (one having made a main rod from twenty-five to thirty feet long last year), got infested with green fly, and in fumigating it some of the more tender leaves got injured through the tobacco smoke. This was when the buds were about half developed last spring, and, of course, wherever the leaves were most injured the flowers suffered in proportion. After flowering, I decided on heading back some of the plants with a view to strengthening them when they began to push.
I find, however, that the rods that are strongest at the base are the weakest in pushing, and one or two of the plants are so weak that they will have to be replaced; other plants of moderate growth have pushed vigorous shoots from their base. It is hard to get over facts like these, which point directly to the rose doing best on its own roots. Had our plants been worked on the brier or any other stock, the probability is that most of them would have died, whereas every succeeding shoot that • is produced from the base is a degree stronger than its predecessor, and tends to increase and invigorate the roots. I would recommend, therefore, that all pruning, or rather thinning out, necessary in the case of this rose, should be done when the plants are in full growth, and not before they start after flowering. The strongest shoots should be selected, and the weaker ones rubbed off with the fingers at an early stage of their growth, and if further thinning be necessary it should be done before the season of growth is very far advanced.
It is so easy to propagate a few fresh plants every season that those who desire to cultivate this rose by the simplest method should be prepared for the loss of an old plant from time to time by having young ones ready to take its place. - W. Hinds in Garden.