Tips on Pruning Roses in Italian Gardens
Late Autumn is the time when we generally consider pruning the roses in our gardens, both in the UK and in many parts of the US, however when should we prune the roses in our Italian holiday homes...?
The rose is a plant that soon loses its vigor and each year produces less and less of its magnificent flowers if we do not prune it annually. They soon become overgrown, woody and begin to fade if we do not intervene with our secateurs (clippers) to remove the older stems right down to the base and shorten the lateral shoots, in order to stimulate new growth and flower production for the following years.
Above: Climbing rose immediately after pruning
Above: The same rose the following year, stimulated and full of new budsMost passionate gardeners are well aware of the basic requirements of the rose, however when we begin to garden in Italy the criteria for rose pruning changes slightly and can be quite bewildering for newcomers. The milder winters can prompt the rose to begin growing earlier and a stimulating hard, autumn prune will invite the rose to begin throwing up new, tender, shoots from its base during the winter. The dramatic changes in air temperature that occur during the Italian winter can put those new shoots at risk thus risking the following summers flower spectacle- a risk not worth taking...!
By postponing our rose pruning until late February - early March we can avoid the risk of our roses shooting too soon thus avoiding the coldest air temperatures of the bleak mid winter.
To help our rose plants recover from the prune, and to improve the soil structure, it is advisable to apply a 'Mulch' (a layer of organic material) around the base of the plant. This mulch can be provided by manure, rotted leaves or simple straw and will definitely make all the difference to the following years flower spectacle. When the rose begins throwing up its new, bright green shoots a fertilizer (preferably organic) should be applied to provide the nutrients necessary to sustain the new prolific growth.
Above: This poor rose was nearly dug up and thrown away because it had stopped producing flowers, however after a prune this is what happened!
Never give up on your rose until the final renovating prune has been tried, in order to save it, however bear in mind that the timing for the pruning of roses is slightly different in Italy.