Pruning in Southern California

When is the best time to prune a rose where it doesn't go dormant?

Q. I have hybrid tea roses and floribunda roses. These roses don't really go dormant in southern California, so I'm not sure when it's best to prune. Also, how do you prune a floribunda rose bush?

—Redondo Beach, CA

A. Pruning encourages new stem growth and new blossoms, so you'll want to prune your roses even if they don't go dormant.

The best time for you to prune your roses is in February, before spring weather arrives.

The hybrid teas should have only three to five strong canes coming from the graft area. Begin by selectively removing anything that is either really thin or that grows straight up. Suckers like these are non-blooming. The remaining canes should be some distance from one another and look like a vase; open in the center, with canes extending from a central point all around. Then cut the canes back to 12 to 18 inches of the graft. New wood will form on the canes, and new stems will produce new blossoms.

The floribundas grow more vigorously and produce many new canes and stems each year. They have a tendency to be dense growers and some people use them as hedges. Cut back the previous season's growth by about one-fourth and leave as many of the strong canes and stems as possible. You'll be rewarded with many small blossoms over a long season.

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