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I have standard roses. As the weather warms, and after feeding with commerically purchased rotted chicken manure they are growing very, very fast.

Is there a way I can get them to produce more flowers rather than growing long stems like the one that goes out of frame in the top right of the picture below?

If I trim the longer stems off to bring it back to shape will that stop it flowering?

The roses pictured has been there longer than I've owned this house - so I guess it is at least eight years old. I pruned the head of all the roses at the end of winter down to a few sticks.

Example rose

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How old are the roses? Have you pruned them? If yes, what time of year is recommended in Australia (where you are)? –  Mike Perry Oct 13 '11 at 2:13
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2 Answers

Chicken manure has a high level of nitrogen, Which encourages stem and leaf formation. If you are more interested in the flowers, add more potassium and less nitrogen. Wait until the temperature stays mostly below 45°F (7°C) and then prune it back, and thin the bush. It will naturally grow some long canes and that is fine, as long as it is properly pruned and fertilized and it gets a good amount of direct sunlight. Severe pruning will result in rapid growth and less flowers. It will try to regrow. Give it a lighter pruning to promote flowers.

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What is the role of "proper" pruning on flower formation? Specifically, if you pruned it more severely could you expect more flowers or simply more non-flower growth? This question also applies to anyone else who answers! –  Lisa Oct 13 '11 at 1:49
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I thought roses were supposed to be pruned in the spring, preferably right before breaking dormancy. In our climate, at least, we get a lot of die-back in the winter - fall pruning wouldn't be good. –  Ed Staub Oct 13 '11 at 19:40
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Taking into account:

Comment from WW01: Well, it is never literally freezing around here. It was probably about 15C (60F).

Chicken manure has a high level of nitrogen...

Seeing as you don't experience freezing weather (frosts, 32°F/0°C):

  • I believe a late Winter (or very early Spring) pruning is "generally" recommended for roses.

  • For those living in areas that experience freezing weather it's "generally" recommended to prune roses after the "average" last Spring frost date of the year eg For myself, living in St Louis MO area that means 10th April, but to play it "extra safe" the 14th May is used (if my memory serves me correctly).

To help encourage blooms (and to "generally" look after your roses) I recommend:

  • Removing the "rotted chicken manure" -- doing so will remove the high Nitrogen source, which is the "main" cause of lots! of green growth (foliage) and very little flowering.

  • Mixing some Bone Meal (a slow release "organic" fertilizer, primarily used as a source of Phosphorus) into the soil around the base of the roses, doing so will encourage flower (bloom) development. Follow the recommended applications rates on the bag.

  • Mulch with an inch (25mm) of compost & top up that compost layer every month or two.

    • Using compost as a mulch in this situation has the added benefit of feeding the roses naturally and slowly. Also doing so will help build-up good soil structure overtime.

Listed below is some "general" rose (care/pruning) information I believe you will find helpful/useful:

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