Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.
News article for January 22, 2018
What a winter event for south Louisiana. Two snow events in one year and temperatures in the mid-teens.
I am sure that you are seeing damage on plants. In Louisiana we get very comfortable using tropical plants, but our recent cold weather is beyond the boundaries that tropical and semi-tropical plants can withstand. Citrus trees are a major concern, but your best approach is to wait and see. It is easy to see leaves that are turning brown and falling off, but not as easy to see how much tissue damage has occurred. It takes time and every situation is different. We recommend that you put off any pruning cold damage in citrus until the end of May or the first of June.
Late January and early February is the time to prune roses. With all of the rains we have had over the last 2 years, plants have been growing at a fast rate. It is during the winter that you can use pruning to return plants to their intended space.
Shrub roses are one of the types of roses that can really grow quickly and could need your attention now. You might know shrub roses as Knock Out Roses, Home Run or one of the many other varieties that are shrub type roses. What makes this type of rose so popular is their lower maintenance requirement.
The old fashion roses, such as hybrid tea and grandiflora roses are considered high maintenance and usually only grown successfully by the experienced rose gardeners. The high maintenance part is spraying for diseases such as black spot. Shrub roses have some resistance to these diseases and that makes it easier for us novice rose growers to grow roses.
Knock Out Roses were originally said to reach maturity in the 4-5’x 4-5’ range. We have since learned that in our long growing season those roses will exceed 8’x8’. In order to keep shrub roses under control you will have to perform periodic pruning.
There are two times of the year to prune roses. One pruning opportunity is in late January to early February and the other is August to September.
It is now that you can prune to get the most size reduction. You can cut back as much as two-thirds of the total growth now. This should allow you to make up for any deferred shrub rose maintenance and get any uncontrolled size issues under control. You can cut back up to one-third of growth in the fall.
For traditional roses such as hybrid tea, you can also prune now. You will want to evaluate the canes and prune down to only 4 to 8 healthy canes. Remove any canes that are smaller than a pencil and any weak or diseased canes. Then cut your healthy canes back to a height of 24 to 30 inches from the soil line.
The roses you would not want to cut back now are climbing roses such as Seven Sisters. These rose will usually flower with one flush in May around Mother’s Day. You will want to wait until after they have finished blooming to do any pruning. If you were to prune now, you would cut their flower buds off and you would not get blooms this spring. If pruning is needed, cut climbing roses back right after they complete their annual bloom.