Christmas to Washington's Birthday is rose pruning time here in the Valley. In this mild winter area of California, roses do not need as severe a pruning as some East Coast-based rose primers might suggest. Here then, are some "California Rules" for pruning hybrid tea, floribundas, grandifloras and miniature roses, from late December to mid-February:
* Prune out all dead and weak growth. Remove any borer-infested branches, as well. A hollow or blackened center of a stem may indicate the presence of borers.
* Make no cuts on hybrid tea rose bushes or grandifloras below your knee, unless you're removing the cane completely.
* Leave as many primary canes as the plant can handle. Many cold climate rosarians might advise you to leave only three canes per hybrid tea rose bush. Here in California, a vigorously growing hybrid tea or grandiflora rose might have as many as nine healthy canes. Keep most, if not all of those canes, for even more roses during spring through fall.
* Make all cuts at a simple right angle to the branch being cut. No 45 degree cuts, just 90 degree cuts. This is especially true of thick canes. The low part of a 45 degree cut on these would extend past, ultimately damaging, weakening or killing the eye (new bud) you are trying to cut above. All cuts should be made one-quarter inch from a dormant eye or intersection of two branches.
* Do not use glue, tree seal or paint on pruning cuts. A clean cut will heal much more quickly when left alone.
* When you are finished, strip all remaining leaves from your roses, then blow or rake all the leaves out of the beds and send them to the dump, not the compost pile. Since all the fungus spores and insect eggs are there from the last growing season, removing these from your yard now reduces next year's problems.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT PRUNING ROSES IN CALIFORNIA, CHECK OUT CONSULTING ROSARIAN BALDO VILLEGAS' WEBPAGE, ROSE PRUNING AND WINTER CARE FOR THE SACRAMENTO AREA.
Good Reference Book for roses: "Roses for Dummies" and "The Natural Rose Gardener" by Lance Walheim,