I have a little secret. Well it's not really a secret if you step into my backyard because you'll see that my rosebush is like The Hulk. And because of its thick canes and dagger-sharp thorns, it's obvious that I'm rather petrified of it.
Ok, I admit it. I've been a little neglectful. After getting a couple thorns through my garden gloves the first year I was in my house, I have steered clear and focused on other parts of my gardens.
So my question for Anne Marie was whether I can cut back my rosebush this fall without suffering personal injury and without harming the plant.
Here's what she had to say:
The best time is to prune your monster rose is in the spring. This way there's less opportunity for winter damage. When you do prune it, take out the oldest canes, right down to the soil level. This is assuming that there's a good crop of canes to choose from. Only remove one third of the oldest ones this time. Then one third the year after and set up a regular pruning schedule. Removing the older canes will encourage nice healthy, vigorous new canes to form from the base.
With canes that thick, a heavy duty pair of loppers are needed for the four- to five-centimetre diameter canes and you may need a small pruning saw, too. When you get ready to tackle the rose, suit up with a ton of protective clothing. An old jacket, heavy duty leather gloves (preferably ones that go up to your elbow), safety glasses and long pants.
It's very difficult to use pruners with thick leather gloves so try them out first to see if they will work for you. Once you prune a cane from the middle of the plant, use the loppers to grab it and drag it to you for disposal. If you have a choice, prune out the canes from the centre of the rose to allow more light and air circulation to get to the middle.
So alas, I have to let my giant lie dormant for the winter, but I will be sure to tame the beast come spring.
Photo: The blooms pictured above from this past summer on my Hulk junior. It lives right next door.