Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Pruning My David Austin Roses
I grow about 20 David Austin roses, some grafted, some own root, and I have finally arrived at some elementary understanding of what I need to do with them at pruning time. This is by no means the definitive guide to pruning, but only a few observations on growth habits and pruning techniques. You can refer to My English roses post to see some bush shots in full bloom.
For the purposes of pruning, I divide all my English roses into two groups. Most roses in either group can be grown as free-standing shrubs or as climbers (at least in warm climates), and the grouping is based only on how blooms develop on individual plants, which makes pruning a lot easier for me.
1. Shrubby roses, with all canes terminating in blooms (somewhat like hybrid teas, but with a little more branching).
2. Climber-like roses, with lots of blooming shoots developing along main (basal) canes. These can still be free-standing shrubs.
Pruning the shrubby ones is mostly (but not always) straightforward.
Geoff Hamilton is the reason why I say pruning shrubby Austins is not entirely straightforward. It gave me easily 6' long basals with no branching. I cut the canes by about 1/3 to see if I can induce branching, but the only thing I got was a couple of tiny scraggly shoots a few inches long. It does not seem to take kindly to pruning. I no longer grow it.
The climber-like ones are the ones I like best. They are very generous with blooms, every tiny twig is productive, and there is no dieback however little pruning I do.
Pat Austin requires a little more work because the growth is more rampant.
The more blooms I get in spring
Here is a cane on William Shakespeare 2000. I shorten all strong laterals till I am sure they can support clusters of heavy blooms, and remove the weakest ones because they sometimes die back.