Green Thumb?: Every Rose Has It’s Thorn

Last weekend , it rained and rained and rained.  Not that I’m complaining, we desperately need the rain. But it was a complete wash (excuse my pun) for gardening.

I had some very big plans to top dress my lawn and put my veggies in the ground.  These tasks were pushed back, but there were some welcome rays of sunshine on Sunday (fitting, no?), and that is when I decided to prune my knock out roses and blackberry bushes.

Nothing scares me more than pruning roses. And no, it’s not the thorns that frighten me.  It’s that I’ll somehow prune off too much and ruin the shape of my rose bush or, worse, get no blooms.  After the first year of my knock-out roses being in the ground, I had a friend show me how to prune them. Dean and I watched in horror as she hacked and hacked and hacked away at the roses.  They seemed very small afterward, and we feared they would never recover, although she assured us they would grow back even larger.

Several weeks later, the roses rebounded and came back bigger and better than the previous year. Fantastic, I thought. I can do this from now on.  And so, for the last two years, I have timidly marched out to their flower bed in mid March and pruned away.  This is what I’ve learned.  You can normally take down the roses by 1/3 their total height.  If the roses are fairly large to begin with, take them down by 1/4 and then prune again sometime during the summer.  You are looking to create a “V” shape with the rose.  I usually try to make sure there are 3-5 major canes in this shape. I cut away any suckers and anything crossing the middle of the plant. Then, when I make my cuts to prune down the height, I make sure to cut above an outward facing bud to continue to encourage the bush to grow in that “V” form. So far, it has been working. Here’s a link to a helpful YouTube video  by GardenMagik that I watch before taking on this task. Helps me get up my nerve.

Here are my roses during their first growing season:

And here they are at the end of last season. I’d say they like whatever I’m doing:

Pruning blackberries is a totally new thing for me. I planted one blackberry bush last year and a new one this year.  What I learned in researching it, is that I have not been doing the right thing at all.  Apparently, you are supposed to prune out all the canes that bore fruit in the fall after fruiting has ceased and get rid of the canes so they do not spread disease. On a new plant, you are also supposed to pinch off the new growing tips of all new canes to encourage lateral shoots.  I must admit I have not been brave enough to do this yet.

Here is the blackberry  bush I planted last year. It is looking a little sad and needs it’s old cane removed:

Here is my new blackberry bush. Will I have the nerve to pinch off the new tips? We shall see:

I was able to get a lot of gardening done this week, so be on the look out for my next post on my veggie babies. Until then, good night.


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