Weatherford Democrat

February 23, 2014

ASK A MASTER GARDENER: For some roses, it’s pruning time

Weatherford Democrat

Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit

Can you give me some pointers for pruning my roses?

Pruning is an important step in maintaining healthy roses. It promotes new growth, maintains a pleasing shape, and maximizes the bloom potential. Now is the time to prune repeat-blooming roses such as EarthKind and antique roses, including the popular KnockOut.

Roses that bloom only once each year should not be pruned until after they bloom. You will need a pair of sharp, clean pruners and some heavy gloves. Bypass pruners that work like a pair of scissors are better for roses than the anvil type.

The first goal in pruning is to open up the inside of the rose bush to allow more light and air to the interior of the plant. The second goal is to encourage lateral growth, which will yield more blooms.

The stems should show no sign of discoloration, and the interior of the stem should be white and plump. If the stem appears brown, shriveled or diseased in any way, the cut is made farther down on the stem so that only healthy canes remain.

First, remove any dead, brown canes completely. Second, remove any canes that are crossing or touching. Third, notice where new growth is beginning to emerge. These are the leaf nodes.

Count down to the fourth or fifth node from the tip of the stem and look for one that is pointing outward. Cut the stem one quarter-inch above this node. New growth occurs in buds that are closest to the cut, so these lateral buds will sprout and grow outward where there is sun and space for blooms.

Finally, step back and make any other pruning cuts that yield a pleasant rounded shape. Don’t worry too much about doing this perfectly. Roses are very well-adapted to severe pruning and new growth will emerge wherever you make a clean cut.

What is the shrub that is covered in pink blooms right now?

Chaenomeles Japonica, commonly known as flowering quince or japonica, is the first shrub to bloom in Parker County. These pink buds are a telltale sign that spring is near. It can grow to 3 feet tall, and is fairly nondescript most of the year; but puts on a spectacular show in February. The fruit can be made into a jelly.

Birds and butterflies

Parker County Master Gardeners present Gardening for Birds and Butterflies on Saturday, March 1, from 9 a.m. to noon.

This will be a fun and informative class teaching gardening methods and techniques that are both effective and friendly to the environment. Learn about birds and butterflies that are common to our area, identify plants that will attract them to your garden, and learn landscape methods that will promote a healthy environment.

It will be hosted by the Weatherford ISD Community Education at the Bowie Learning Center located at 900 N. Elm  St.  The cost is $20.

For registration information go to or call 817-598-2806.