It’s the rose that is coveted as the national floral emblem of America. Roses were designated as such in 1986 by Congress.
Roses are happiest in well-drained soil and with plenty of sunshine. In Colorado, for the most part, rose growers manage the second part of this equation, but perhaps not so much the first part.
Anyway, let’s answer the question: When to prune roses in Colorado?
Rose Pruning in Colorado
Ideally, in Colorado, you’ll want to prune your roses back anytime from late April through May. Don’t be tempted to prune too early on in the springtime because any frosts will hit the new foliage.
If you’re in a higher elevation – at a higher elevation, wait for a bit longer before you prune your roses so as to avoid the danger of frost killing off any fresh growth.
Pruning roses increases the number of blooms and it also improves the shape of the bush as well as its health.
How much pruning should you do? How hard back to cut your roses?
It varies. It’s variable depending on how much dieback there has been and also on the type of rose.
Old garden roses and modern shrub roses call for the least amount of pruning.
For rose bushes that bloom a single time in the year and for all climbing roses these varieties have a preference for being pruned one time after the first flowering period is over.
Floribunda, hybrid tea, and Grandiflora roses tend to need relatively heavy pruning. For hybrid teas, you can prune right back to the base of the plant just above ground level.
Obviously, if you do prune to ground level and your roses are tagged, save the tags and remember which rose they belong to.
I know that it does seem harsh to prune roses right back to the base. The worry is, will they ever grow again? Will they die because of such hard pruning?
Not to worry. They will resume growth as soon as the weather warms up. Plus, when you do cut your roses hard back, those roses respond much better than if they were to be lightly pruned.
When it comes to pruning roses there are some rules to follow. Some people refer to these rules as the three Ds.
The three Ds goes like this: Prune the dead wood, the damaged wood, and also the diseased wood. Prune it all right back to tissue that is healthy.
How do you know the tissue is healthy? It will have a green exterior and a white-ish colored interior.
Further, take out – prune out – any weak, thin, wispy canes and cut back any old and woody canes to ground level.
Here, there’s a goal and that is to open the rose bush up so that air can circulate and light can enter.
When pruning, make your cuts at 45-degree angles. This helps with water run-off which reduces the opportunity for rot to set in. Make each cut at around a half to one inch (at very most) above fresh buds that are outward-facing.
Not long after pruning, it’s good policy to fertilize your roses with a complete fertilizer (a complete fertilizer being one that consists of the three main ingredients – the macronutrients that all plants require for healthy growth: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – N-P-K).
A complete fertilizer does not necessarily need to be one that supplies these three macronutrients evenly. A good complete fertilizer for roses is available from Miracle-Gro and has a 10-18-9 ratio (more phosphorus which is good for root system development).
Prior to applying the fertilizer, give your roses and good watering. Then after applying the fertilizer, water once more.
Here’s a short-ish video with further explanation about when and how to prune your roses in Colorado:
Find out when to plant roses in Colorado.