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Prune it, don’t kill it

Beautiful roses.resize

I’ve always marveled at the differences each month and season holds for a garden. July is special, as many gardeners and landscapers get out their secateurs to start pruning their roses.

This is when you should be out in your garden doing preparations for the spring and summer months, the excitement at what is to come always makes me feel very jolly.

Pruning roses is an easy way to get back into the swing of things. Before you begin the process of pruning your roses ensure that your secateurs (large and small) have had their blades sharpened, there is nothing worse than trying to cut a branch off neatly and it does the complete opposite and causes a great big tear down the side of the stem. Badly cut branches and stems can cause real damage and infection to your rose bush.

Top tip: The best time to begin pruning in July is mid-morning as beginning too early you may get frost bite on your finger tips and leaving it till mid-afternoon depending on how many roses you have you may be left working in the dark.

Ensure that you make a clean cut about 1cm above the new bud. The angle at which you cut the stem should be angled away from the bud. Making a cut that is straight or angled towards the bud could cause problems.

Remember that when pruning you should remove all the old leaves so that your rose can start afresh without any infection that was on the leaves. Don’t leave the leaves around the base of the plant as these infected leaves may infect the new leaves, rather burn them or put them into a municipal bin. Putting the leaves on your compost heap is not good either as there still is a possibility of infection.

There are many different varieties of roses, some of which include: hybrid teas, floribunda’s, miniature, mindinette and climbing roses. Each rose has to be pruned differently. For hybrid teas and floribundas I usually cut the rose down to about half the height, when it comes to pruning climbing roses, I usually cut off about a meter or so all depending on how vigorously the rose has grown the past season. While, when I prune a standard rose, like Iceberg, I usually try to cut the rose to within the size of a soccer ball.

#AskALandscaper – Do I need to change watering times with the seasons?

The most common cause of death to roses is that they get planted too deep, when doing the pruning ensure that the soil is cleared away from the stem of the roses. There should be no soil on the stem, I usually clear all the soil away from the rose until I see roots, then I leave a very thin layer of soil just covering the roots.

What often happens is that when using a fork to turn the soil, the soil over time, gets higher and higher on the stem. This also happens when you add compost and mulch to your flower beds. Great care should be taken when adding additional soil to garden beds, always ensure that your plants are not getting smothered.

Once pruning has been done, and clearing of the soil around the base completed, I recommend a hand full of acid compost and Vigolonger controlled release fertiliser from Ludwigs Roses. The combination really does make a spectacular show on your roses in the summer and winter months.

Basic care tips:

  • As we go into spring you can begin to give your roses a good deep soaking. Do not water at night, rather do this mid-morning.
  • Companion planting is an absolute must around your roses, rather plant Parsley, Geraniums, Chives, Onions, Basil, Spring onions and Marigolds these plants will keep the pests away such as aphids and ants. Using chemicals kills other beneficial insects and microorganisms within your garden.
  • Remember to protect your tender plants with frost guard and to keep your flowerbeds well mulched at this time of year.

Got a burning question? Email mariette@hometimes.co.za and we’ll be sure to assist

Who is Nick Spargo?

Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants.

Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants.

Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants, has been in the landscape trade for 12 years as well as being a lecturer at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre for the past year. He was awarded a Gold for a design at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre Design Show in 2008, is an Invasive Species Consultant and is affiliated with the South African Green Industries Council.

Landscaping and education are very close to his heart.



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