The time of pruning must depend upon when the plants are desired to bloom. If the plants are to be forced into flower in February, pruning must be done in November, and the plants started in a warm house. If they are to come steadily and naturally into bloom in a cool house, the pruning may take place as soon as the buds are seen to be swelling. This, it is understood, if the plants are, as they should be if they have been out of doors during winter, put under glass at the time of pruning. It would not be safe if they were to be left out. If a start is being made with one year old plants, the first pruning may be to two buds. In the case of cut-backs (that is, plants which have been previously pruned) the shoots may be shortened, the weakest to two buds, the strongest to three buds. This pruning reduces the plants to mere stumps, but they soon break vigorously in a temperature of 45° to 55°, and become well furnished with shoots, foliage, and flowers.
With plenty of air in fine weather, and due attention to watering, pot Roses do not, as a rule, give much trouble. It should be noted, however, that overwatering is easy. When pot plants bloom in late winter or early spring the air is cool, and there may be very little sun. Daily watering may or may not be necessary. The only guide is the state of the soil, and that can be ascertained by rapping the pot, which will emit a hollow, ringing sound if the soil is dry. Syringing is good in dry weather. Occasionally mildew or some other fungus will attack the plants, or green fly may put in an appearance. In this case bring into play one of the various remedies mentioned in a previous chapter.
The plants will be better in the open air than under glass during the summer, but they must not be turned out directly they have finished flowering if the weather is very cold, as the sudden change from warm quarters might do them great injury. When the time does come, find them a sunny spot where they will be out of the way, and plunge the pots in ashes, which will serve the double purpose of reducing the necessity for watering by keeping roots and soil cool and keeping out worms. The plants will very likely show bud again towards autumn, but it is not advisable to let them bloom; therefore pick off the buds directly they show.
Plants of three years old and upwards will push a considerable number of shoots, but it is wise to thin them when quite small, leaving a dozen flowering growths at the most. These may be supported by neat stakes. When the plants show buds liquid manure may be given, either from natural sources or in the shape of pinches of artificials scattered on and watered in. This feeding is less necessary for young, freshly potted plants than for old ones merely top-dressed.