If you examine a rose plant carefully, you will notice that it has compound leaves, meaning that there are either three or five leaflets to each leaf. The three-leaflet leaves appear near the top and bottom of each stem, and the five-leaflet leaves appear in the middle of the stems. In the axel of each leaf is a vegetative bud; however, the buds are more robust and pronounced in the axels of the five-leaflet leaves than in the three-leaflet leaves.
You can control the growth of roses by pruning them once or twice each month. However, you should cut stems above the five-leaflet leaves and not above the three-leaflet leaves. Buds that develop in the axels of three-leaflet leaves are generally not as well developed as those that develop in the axels of five-leaflet leaves.
If your desire is to promote heavy branching in addition to increasing plant height, then cut the stem just above the uppermost five-leaflet leaf on each stem. This will stimulate both the vegetative bud in the axel of that leaf and the buds in the axels of the five-leaflet leaves below. If your desire is to limit branching and force the plant to develop only a few well-developed and strong branches, prune just above the lowest five-leaflet leaf on each stem.
Pruning is best done soon after the petals on the flowers have fallen. The longer you delay the pruning, the longer it will take for the auxiliary buds to initiate growth. If the stems you are pruning are larger than a pencil in diameter, place a drop of nail polish on the cut surface to prevent cane borers from invading.
This method of pruning is equally effective with Hybrid-Ts, floribunda and climbing roses.
Transplant Time Begins
Q: I enjoyed your article (Aug. 19) about pruning blueberries. I have been growing blueberries since the early 1980s and have done very limited pruning. My five bearing bushes gave me 40 quarts this summer. We had to move the bushes earlier this month (had them professionally moved) because we are putting an addition on our house. Although this is not the proper time of year to transplant bushes, they appear to be doing well. I would love to watch you prune your berries in March.
–Carole Purves, by email
A: This is the best time of year for transplanting blueberries, azaleas and rhododendrons.