Tips for Pruning Floribunda Roses in Houston
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

1. First, remove all obviously dead canes.

2. Next, remove any crossing cane (a cane that rubs against another cane) by cutting the cane off at the bud union. Use some judgment here on selecting which of the two canes that are rubbing against each other to remove. Usually, one is better off removing the cane with the smaller diameter.

3. Remove all inwardly growing canes to make sure the center of the bush is open.

4. I recommend removing any cane that has a diameter of less than that of a pencil.

5. After removing crossing canes, inwardly-growing canes and thin canes, leave all the others. With floribundas, the more canes the better.

6. Prune the remaining canes back by cutting off between one-third and one-half of last year's growth. See below for details on how to make these cuts.

7. Exactly where on the cane to make your cut depends on the actual rose cane before you. What we are looking for is a bud eye. Bud eyes are pimple-sized swellings on canes where a new stem will develop. We look for a bud eye on the "outside" part of the cane. That will insure that the new cane grows to the outside, not inwardly.

8. We will make a 45 degree angled cut one-fourth inch above the bud eye. The "top" side of the cut will be on the side with the bud eye and the downward side will be on the part of the cane opposite the bud eye. That way, any sap will flow away from the bud eye and not drip over it.

9. Make sure your cut is of green, healthy wood. If the cut shows dead wood (or even if only part of the cut has dead wood), you must make a lower cut to green wood. That dead wood is like a cancer, and it will cause die back and kill the cane. Thus, continue cutting back to green wood, even if you cut the particular cane very short. Cutting back to green wood is the only way to save a diseased cane. Go to the next outward-facing bud eye and try again. I would rather have a four inch cane with green wood than a eighteen inch cane with dying wood. Live wood looks light green/white. Dead wood looks brown.

10. At your option, you can put Elmer's White Glue on the cut with your finger if the cane is especially large in diameter. Most canes will not need anything on the cut.

11. Strip off any leaves with black spot and pick up all fallen leaves around the base of the plant.

12. Established bushes (those in the ground for at least one year) can be fed anytime after pruning. For new bushes, wait until the first rose blooms appear before fertilizing. And don't forget to water.

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