Let's be real here. There are too many reasons why roses are serious contenders for the most fabulous flower on nature's market. They look like tightly wound ribbons of multicoloured silk, they smell like sensuous slices of sweet heavenly intoxication and they possess impressive healing and beauty powers. There are several arguments in favour of grow roses in your garden, on your balcony or on the front stoop, but most of all, they are just fucking fabulous and totally timeless. And you get to give them away which makes for the world's easiest popularity trump card.
When we picture roses in our brains we usually envision hybrid teas and floribundas so that's what we're gonna focus on here. I think people get all intimidated and shit about growing roses because there is such an intense gardening nerd culture around them and yes, you need to prune them once a year. This can be extremely stress inducing if you don't know what you are doing because, in order to have the best roses ever, you literally have to massacre them. It's terrifying. I thought I was a bloody murderer the first time I pruned a giant elegant rose into a gnarly claw of prickles. But it's okay! You won't kill it. Just try it. This week. And see what happens in a couple months. You'll probably be blown away and so very pleased with yourself.
THE BASICS FOR SUCCESSFUL ROSE GROWING:
6-8 hours of sun each day preferably. There is no such thing as a shade loving rose. These babies love to bask and tan.
Roses like a daily drink of water at the base of the plant. Try to give a good soak so the roots are getting their thirst quenched. Never water the leaves if you can help it. That's how they get the dreaded black spot disease.
To keep roses blooming again and again, you should fertilize them about every four to six weeks during growing season. You can use any organic all purpose fertilizer like Gaia Green (my fave) or Gardener's Supply or whatever. Just make sure it's natural powder or pellets and not chemical rocks (ew). Ask your garden supply store if you're not sure.
The most important thing is to select a rose that will thrive in your climate. No point getting a rose that will just fecking die no matter how much you baby it. These guys are super helpful when researching conditions for all types of roses.
We must prune our roses every spring. Why? To improve the appearance of the plant, stimulate growth, control over-wintering bugs and diseases and to control the quality and quantity of blooms. That way we have a shape we like and a cluster feck of blossom explosions all summer. Aim for any time between January and mid March when you get a dry day.
So HOW TO prune?
1. BRING OUT YOUR DEAD
Start by taking out all the dead stuff. You can tell because it's brown, crusty and dead looking. It breaks like an old dead branch and has no bend or green in it. I know you can figure this out. Also, take out anything that looks like it's dying or diseased. Usually this means that the cane is turning brown or dark purply brown, or there are tons of dark spots all over it. Basically, if the cane is not looking green and healthy, take it out or at least trim it back to where it looks healthy.
2. SHAPE THAT BATCH INTO A VASE
As you prune roses, you want your plants to grow with an open centre, like a vase shape, so air can flow freely through the plant -- and to keep your rose from looking like a mangled mess of prickly horror. So take out any canes/branches that are all fucky and crossing each other in the middle of the plant.
3. GET YOUR EDWARD SCISSORHANDS ON
Now we have an appropriate canvas to work with. Here comes the carnage. Slash off 1/2 of last year's growth (the fresh green stuff) and remove most of the leaves. Yep. Chop chop. Your rose will look something like this.
4. CHOOSE YOUR star BUDdieS
Last but not least is how to prune those canes to a bud. Cut at a 45 degree-ish angle to a bud that is facing the direction you want your flowers to grow (usually outward). Like this:
If you're like me and you like pics of things in RL, here ya go.
And that's all folks. Not that crazy, right? There aren't 25 mind bending steps to pruning these little precious prizes. Keep it simple. Try it this year and see how you do.
Now that your roses are all prepped, you just have to wait a bit before you get to fill your life with bouquets of fragrant pleasure. Cut them and put them in your kitchen for instant house beautifying powers. Make crowns out of them. Give them to a special friend. Smell them when you walk outside and get an instant boost of relaxation and indulgent sensory pleasure. Sprinkle some fresh rose petals in your bath. You can match the colour to your favourite bath wine. Rosé anyone?
Weeeeeeeee!!!!! Happy hacking!!!
Videos are super useful too but my computer officially hates me. I'll post a video of how to twerp your way through pruning a rose as soon as technology figures its stupid life out. Be in touch!
xo Kitty 🌹
Model: Shelly Shan @shellyfilleddonut
Photos: Various Artists