Tuesday Quick Tip – Deadheading Roses

We all love those rose blooms – they remind us of summer and romance. They are no doubt the queen of garden flowers. Nothing quite compares with a rose. Unfortunately, they also require quite a bit of our attention when it comes to garden maintenance.  Most new cultivars do not require the deadheading of spent blooms to trigger a second show, but it always looks a little rambunctious to leave the flower stems up.  Luckily, cleanup is just a small snip away and I usually let the heads fall right into the bed to compost instead of cleaning them up individually.

Often I stood in front of the bush however, wondering how much  of the stem to cut. Do I cut a little and risk a bush of unsightly empty stems, or do I cut low and loose a lot of time for the bloom to regrow. Luckily, an old pro soon showed me a rule-of-thumb.

Most cultivated roses follow a 1-3-5 pattern. One bloom, followed by a stem with three leaves on it, followed by a stem with five leaves on it. And right above this five leaved stem is the golden spot to cut. A nice, clean, slightly angled cut.

Would you cut lower then the 5 leaves, the rose has to first reproduce the 5 leave stem and then the 3 leave and then the bloom. Lots of time and energy is need to grow. But cut to high between the two stems or above the three leave stem, the rose will still reproduce from just above the 5 leave stem, leaving an empty bloom stalk in the rose. It takes a little getting used to, and sure, it is not the end of the world, or the rose, if you do not follow this rule.  For me, I always like to honor the generations of gardeners before and keep with the tradition. My roses are grateful for it.

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