As we roll toward the end of August and into September, it’s time to take care of your everblooming bush roses that have been languishing in the summer swelter. By pruning back about a third of their height in late August or early September, your roses will maintain their nice shape and size and be prepared for a floral explosion in the cooler, more accommodating weather of October through early December. This may mean that you will be pruning away some canes that have flower buds, but you will be rewarded later.
Everblooming roses include the various Knockouts, grandifloras, hybrid teas, Bourbons, noisettes, polyanthas, drifts and hybrid multifloras. The fall pruning will not be as severe as the January/February pruning but is every bit as important. It keeps the roses' shape and size controlled to fit and maintain the visual appearance of your landscape.
Prune away any dead or dying branches first. Then remove any interior crossing canes to give the plant an upright, open shape. These interior canes should be cut flush with the main stem from which they arise.
Now cut the remaining main canes back by about one-third. Prune at a 45-degree angle, about a quarter-inch above a lateral bud (that is, any bud that is not on the terminal end of a stem) that is facing the outside of the plant. You want to choose an outward facing bud so your plant will maintain an open vase shape that allows for good air circulation throughout the plant. Maintaining good air circulation is essential for reducing disease by allowing rapid drying of the leaves.
During the pruning process, you will want to disinfect your pruners regularly. Dip pruners in a 10 percent alcohol solution or a 10 percent Clorox solution, or wipe with disinfectant wipes. Roses are beautiful but they fight myriad problems. It is crucial to disinfect your pruners after pruning a diseased cane and between each rose bush.
If you wish, you can disinfect more often, but definitely not less. Now would also be a good time to check the mulch around your roses and supplement as needed to maintain a 3- to 4-inch depth.
Unless you have a large collection of roses, this is a minimal garden chore with great rewards.
I was trimming back my overgrown Itea and noticed these pests, shaped like a patty pan squash, on the bark of Itea virginica (I think). Any idea what they are and more importantly, how to get rid of them? — Charlotte
This is Indian Wax Scale (patty pan squash is a perfect description of how they look). If the plants have gotten a little overgrown, I suggest cutting away areas that have a lot of scale and disposing of them in closed garbage bag. The crawlers are active in June and July, so they may still be around, but the best control method at this point is a systemic insecticide containing imidacloprid or dinotefuran. This can be applied as a soil drench or spray (follow label directions). Thorough coverage with an insecticide containing carbaryl has also worked.