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I tried to prune a rose bush and it stopped growing from all the branches I pruned, and instead shot one big green stem up from the root again. What is the proper technique?

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How short did you prune it? Too close to the root and the branch will "die off". –  Michael Todd Jun 8 '11 at 19:40
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The "green stem up from the root" sounds like a sucker and needs would need to be removed. –  Lisa Jul 19 '11 at 5:21
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1 Answer

up vote 11 down vote accepted

We only have one rose and it was already planted when we moved in, so practical experience is limited and initial shape left something to be desired. However, I followed the advice in Neil Sperry's Complete Guide to Texas Gardening and this seems to work. It is a bit of a traditional gardening book, and a bit proscriptional ("there is only one way and it is this"), but his pruning advice for peaches also seems successful (so far!).

Anyway, he notes:

  • they only bloom on new growth
  • late winter is best, especially for the bush types. This maximizes new growth in time for spring
  • prune climbers after their first spring blooms. The exception are the always blooming types which should be pruned lightly in winter.
  • bush roses should be pruned back 50% and no more
    • remove all weak non-productive canes
    • prune strong canes by 50%, cut just above the buds that face away from the centers of the plants
    • seal cut ends with shellac or white glue (NOT black pruning sealant)

Looking at all that advice I might have half followed it. We've had more die back - perhaps I pruned too much (more than 50% some years): it sounds like you may have made the same mistake.

Also we've had more flowers when I haven't pruned - pruning every other year seems to be working well for us. I think this is because there's more new growth when I haven't pruned, because pruning will always remove new growth.

I've never sealed the ends (and can you even get shellac any more?) - disease might also account for die-back.

The following articles may also prove helpful & worth your while having a reading through:

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sealing ends (cuts) is considered very "old school" & is no longer recommended. You most definitely can still get shellac, it's often used as a finish in fine woodworking... –  Mike Perry Jul 26 '11 at 2:40
    
Although the book isn't that old it does have traditional outlook - proscriptional and no mention of organic approaches. You also see shellac references in old modelling books, but in the modelling world it has been long replaced by various varnishes. –  winwaed Jul 26 '11 at 2:46
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