Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Pruning Roses with Local Gardners

Helen Hartung and Holly Holyk demonstrated how to prune roses.

It’s time to start pruning your roses, according to Sunset Magazine’s Gardening guide.

“Roses should be pruned by January 15th,” said Helen Hartung, Windsor Square gardener and one of our favorite local garden experts. In truth, roses are very forgiving so you can do it anytime but it’s best if you get done before the end of February, she explained.

We dropped by a rose pruning demonstration that Hartung was leading for the Hancock Park Garden Club at the home of Windsor Village resident Holly Hoylk, another local rosarian.

The primary reason for pruning is to shape the rose and encourage new blooms.

The general rule of thumb is to remove about one-third of the bush. Ideally, you are trying to create an open urn shape by removing any branches that crisscross the plant so there is good air circulation at the base of the plant and reduce the potential for any disease. However, thanks to our wonderful climate, our roses are generally less susceptible to disease than roses on the east coast.

Ideally, you want to remove about 1/3 of the plant when pruning a rose bush.
Hartung demonstrates the 45-degree angle pruning cut.
The perfect cut is the one on the left. The center cut is too flat and water could fill the stem causing rot. The one on the right is too close to the bud or growth node.

You want to make your cuts at a 45-degree angle away from your bud or growth node to allow the water to roll down, flat cuts could fill with water and promote rot, explained Hartung and Holyk.

Start slow, explained Hartung but don’t worry, roses are so tough, you can hardly run them! To get started, remove anything dead or spindly, meaning thinner than a pencil, and anything that crisscrosses into the bush. Good air collation is very important for healthy roses, explained Hartung.

Once you’ve finished pruning, remove all the remaining leaves from the plant. This will allow you to see the structure and remove any potential fungal infections. It’s best if you cut them off rather than tear them but Holyk admitted that she doesn’t have the patience and instead often rips them off. Note, if you have rust or mildew, you won’t want to put those leaves in the compost so you don’t spread the disease.

The roses will start regenerating in a few weeks and should be blooming in March.

And, one more thing. If pruning roses is on your Do List you might want to have some long gloves and sharp pruning tools at the ready. Hartung highly recommended sharpening your tools first.

The final cut — a perfect open urn shape!
Or you can just read about it!
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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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