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Clean-Up in the Spring Garden – Trimming the Knock-Out Roses

Knock Outs are almost Maintenance Free

 

Taking care of Knock-outs in gardens is a little like parenting a very well behaved child.  Most of the time they are darling and beautiful and very well behaved.  However, occasionally you need to show them some tough love.  The tough love is not fun, can be a little prickly, and may even draw some blood.  However, your tough love will be rewarded with continued beauty and good behavior.  Put off your tough love – and it only gets harder.

The tough love that gardeners need to show their roses is a good hard pruning in early .  By hard I mean almost tot he ground. We call this rejuvenation pruning.  In most situations I suggest doing this every year.  You might get away with skipping the first year after you them.  However, after that – they do best if pruned every year.  I think my parenting analogy still could apply here, don’t you?

The nice thing about this hard pruning is that you really don’t need any special training – if you can cut with a  pair of scissors you can prune knockout roses.  You don’t need to know the details of growing points and inward facing canes like you would if we were doing in-season pruning of a hybrid tea rose.  All  we are going to do is cut every cane off about 6 – 12” of from the ground.

Step 1: Gather your supplies

The first step to trimming your roses is gather your supplies. I suggest that you have

  • Long sleeved shirt and pants to protect you from thorns.  (my attorney would also say I should probably suggest you wear eye protection too….but life is more fun with a little risk involved).  You’ll also want some nice heavy leather gloves.
  • A decent set of pruners.  No need to run out and buy a  $50 pair of Felco pruners.  Instead I would suggest a nice pair of  $10 pruners for this job and save the Felco’s for the important pruning.
  • Some twine to tie up your bundles.  After you cut down the roses canes – you are going to need to dispose of them and tying them in bundles works well for that.

Step 2: Approach the Naughty bush and begin cutting

Knock Out Rose that needs to be trimmed

You should now see your ugly Knock out rose Bush in your yard.  It is not pretty and it needs to be rejuvenated.  Your going to do this task most likely sitting down on your bum so that you can scoot in under the and cut each cane about 6-10” off the ground.  Notice I did not include a ruler in your needed supplies.  No need for that amount of exactness.  The canes you cut off are not going to grow any more.  However new shoots will branch off these existing canes and be your new branches. 

 

 

Knock Out Rose cut back

 

 

 

Step 3: Check your Work

 

Your newly ‘parented” roses should look like this.   All the canes are cut off approximately 10” off the ground. 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Wait for Growth

Soon your cut off rose will begin to appreciate the tough love it ahs given and begin shooting up some new growth!  This will be the start of this summers beautiful !

New Growth on Knockout rose

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One Response to “Clean-Up in the Spring Garden – Trimming the Knock-Out Roses”

  1. Gayle Says:

    Thanks for giving me the courage to really prune my knockout rose! I knew it had to be done; it had just gotten SO BIG last year. Now that bad boy is down to the ground and I am looking forward to tons of roses this year. Now if I can just talk my husband into dealing with that huge, thorny pile of rose branches…

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