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What you need:
  • Hand pruners
  • Wax or Elmer's glue
It's important to do some routine pruning prior to planting a bare root rose to ensure the overall health and vigor of the plant. Start the pruning process by selecting a bare root rose which has a good, well-spaced structure and identifying which canes you will remove altogether. Be sure to note any broken canes or dead wood that will have to be removed when selecting your rose.
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Ideally, you want to have 3-5 of the thickest, healthiest and well-spaced canes remaining when you are done with pruning. The remaining canes should be growing outward from the center of the rose. Any cane that is growing towards or across the center of the rose should be removed. If a rose has any canes that touch or cross one another, remove the smaller of the two.
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For aesthetic reasons you should also remove any dead wood remaining from old cuts.
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Most rose growers cut their rose canes back to about 9" before shipping. These cuts are generally made without consideration for the rose's future growing habits, so it's good idea to prune them again yourself. Trim each cane back to an average of 6" above the crown, making a diagonal cut about " above an outward facing eye. It is also important to balance the canes to the existing roots. It is always better to have more "roots than shoots" on the plant.
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Thicker canes should be pruned less, while thinner canes should be pruned more. Pruning in this fashion serves to "balance the energy that is stored in the plant." The growth that develops will result in a better-shaped bush during the growing season. Pruning cuts should be made at a 45 degree angle, a quarter of an inch above an outward facing eye. The low side of the cut should be opposite the bud eye.
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Don't prune the roots unless they are broken or appear wounded. If the tips are wounded or diseased, cut the tips about " at a time until the inside of the root appears white.
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Each cut you make on a cane with a diameter greater than a pencil needs to be sealed to prevent cane borers from entering the rose. Applying a little Elmer's glue to any fresh cuts will do the trick.
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This is a prime example of a healthy bare root rose that is ready to be planted. Note the large, fibrous root system, the strong bud union, and the healthy outward growing canes.