by Marty Reich, Master Rosarian, Editor of the Rose Leaf
Something you will want to do in February is to prune your David Austin roses. Dr. Rankin, who was a member for many years and grew a huge number of them, gave this advice: Prune and feed them in mid-February. Since I started doing this, it has seemed to make a difference from the years I waited until late March.
Climbers should generally be pruned in late February just before the leaves start really coming out. This makes it much easier to see what you are doing and makes it simpler to clean out old canes and attach canes to trellises. You must know what kind of climber you are pruning. Some kinds bloom on old wood and can only have dead wood cut out early,whereas others like America, which is a large flowered climber (LCl) and blooms on new growth, should be done in February. Blooms on America come on the laterals that occur on the long horizontal canes. Prune the laterals back to 2 or 3 bud-eyes.
Be sure to clean up any leaves that remain on the ground after you prune any rose and pick off any diseased leaves you see that remain after pruning. Do not panic if you have to prune all the way to the ground to get good wood. A grafted rose will likely come back from the bud union if the graft (knot) has been protected thru the winter. If you spray, be sure to start just as soon as the leaves begin to come out. Better to stop blackspot before it starts than to try to get it under control later.
Come to the pruning demonstrations so you can see first-hand how it is done. I think most new rosarians get a real shock when they see us cut. This is a very important service for your roses.