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Pruning roses is easy once you get over the fear of somehow damaging the beautiful, budding plant by pruning it. As one of my favorite teachers and landscapers once told me: growth follows the blade. This article tells how to get the right growth and a bounty of blooms. It also offers some of the basics when it comes to care.

The care of roses is simple enough. Just remember that they’re gluttons. They like lots of light, lots of food and lots of water. Keeping pests and disease away can be easy and non-toxic using a “safe-soap” type of mixture.

Pruning roses is another way to keep them healthy and happy. First off, roses should be cut to no higher than knee-level in the winter. Pruned properly, the dormant, winter rose should look like the fingers of your hand turned palm-up. Five or so “canes” should be growing out from the center and not crossing if possible.

Once spring comes and the pretties start taking off, sharpen the blade on your pruners and find a pair of comfortable leather gloves.

Once you have a bunch or a couple of blooms that are done budding, you want to make a cut. This will help the plant direct energy to new blooms making them bigger, brighter and better. With sharp pruners, cut just above a branch with five leaves – at whatever height you want to keep the rose. The cut should be 45 degrees angling toward the branch. If you can’t find a branch with five leaves, three will do. It’s still better to make the cut and re-direct that energy.

When deciding which canes to cut way down and which to leave somewhat intact, try to open up the middle of the plant so air can flow through. Roses also need air. This will reduce pests and disease as well.

Remember to always cut off deadwood and broken limbs so there are clean cuts on the plant. Also, keep an eye out for “root stock” – grafted material that isn’t supposed to grow. It doesn’t bloom and is a waste of the plant. Cut it as soon as you realize what it is and the more decorative part of the plant should take over.

Don’t be afraid to make some bigger cuts. You’ll be amazed how the roses respond. Plus, you’ll have more flowers for your kitchen table.