Valentine's Day on February 14th is known as being a good day to prune your roses. Why not turn a chore into a reason to celebrate? Let's party!
Hybrid tea roses, like the ones featured here, appreciate a thorough pruning in winter. In case you are wondering, the roses featured above are Double Delight, Mister Lincoln, and Rio Samba. Each rose boasts some French parentage, as you can see on the links provided. This photo was taken in November of 2022, believe it or not. Yes, those roses were blooming at that time, and perhaps the annual pruning was part of the reason. As for the cat, that's Zack, and yes, he is a connoisseur of fine roses. He is the cat who shares a name with my husband's southern ancestor, Zachariah, as well as my ancestor who moved from France to Québec, Zacharie Cloutier. I would like to think Zack is getting in touch with his French side as he takes time to enjoy these roses!
Before grabbing your pruning shears, make sure to have your rose-themed party essentials ready. How about some rose-themed cupcakes? You can dye the frosting in pink, red, orange, yellow, or any combination of festive rose colors. I'll admit, I don't make the prettiest rose designs when I decorate cakes, but it's the thought that counts, right? Of course, rose-themed napkins and plates would be nice, but anything neutral will work, too. Would it be too cliché to serve rosé? Methinks not!
Okay, back to pruning your roses. The aim is to remove diseased and overly large canes. Also, if any canes are growing toward the center, then you will want to remove them. Trust me. I took a light hand to pruning during my first few years of rose growing, and while that was okay the first year, it became more cumbersome in subsequent years, especially after planting more vigorous varieties. There are exceptions, though. If you have a climbing rose, particularly one that has just been planted within the past few years, then don't get too aggressive, particularly if it seems to be a slow grower. Also, if a newly planted rose does not have much new growth, then a light pruning is probably okay. Mainly, you want to make sure each cane is healthy with ample air circulation around it. There are numerous rose books and videos about how to make proper cuts.
Let's note that not all types of roses wish to be pruned at this time, though. If your rose blooms on old wood, like many of the old-style ramblers, then you should prune them right after blooming in spring or summer. If you are new to roses, or you are unsure about the type of rose you have, then don't be worried. Just try to do your research and ask your local nursery or greenhouse, giving them as much information as possible about the rose's blooming habits. A truly hardy rose will survive most pruning mistakes, but it may take a few seaons to return to its former glory, and that's okay. After all, humans sometimes make mistakes, and yet we keep on going and growing, too!