The end of summer is a great time to enjoy roses in the garden. Brazoria County Master Gardeners are celebrating rose culture with a free Open Garden Day from 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 5 at our demonstration garden, the Brazoria Environmental Education Station, which we affectionately call BEES, at 583 Hospital Drive in Angleton. We will have a presentation on old garden roses by the Houston Rose Society and offer demos on proper rose planting, tips for taking cuttings and how to maintain and water your rose garden.

This is also the perfect time to prune some of your roses to encourage a flourish for fall blooming. I mention some because pruning techniques and timing depend on the type and variety of rose you own and is dependent on the growth habit and vigor of the plant. Keep in mind that you should always provide annual maintenance pruning such as cutting out dead and diseased branches as they occur.

Regarding variety specific maintenance, best pruning practice for antique roses is shaping with a light trimming to keep a full form. We are encouraging a display of many blooms rather than the single-cut flowers expressed from hybrid tea or grandiflora roses you might see at the florist shop or grocery store.

The same technique of shaping the canopy is best used for polyantha, Knock Out and drift roses, which are roses with a shrubby habit. The exceptions to this class of roses are the spring blooming antiques that you would prune just after spring flush and then maintenance pruning of dead wood.

One popular rose in our area that blooms in spring and fall is Peggy Martin, an easy-to-grow vigorous climbing thornless rose. Cane pruning and shaping for Peggy Martin rose should be committed after the first spring bloom.

Smith County Horticulture agent and garden writer Greg Grant recommends hybrid tea, grandiflora and floribunda roses should be pruned around Labor Day and Valentine’s Day annually. Their average pruning height in fall is around three feet, leaving taller growing varieties to four feet.

Remove about one-third of the canes for fall and one-half for a spring pruning. Always use a good pair of sharp pruning shears and loppers for larger canes, and don’t forget to wear leather gloves for protection. The serious rosarian might consider arm-length leather or Kevlar gloves when pruning their thorny friends.

Fine pruning includes making all cuts at a 45-degree angle no more or less than one-quarter-inch above a vigorous outward-facing bud. Most commercially-grown modern roses may have been budded on a rootstock, which is a plant with roots that support a grafted desired variety. Always remove sucker growth that is growing at or below the graft scar/union to discourage growth of an unwanted variety.

As we drop into the cooler months of fall, your roses offer the potential for a heavy blooming season. Apply a cup of organic dry rose fertilizer after a light fall pruning and supplement with liquid feed two weeks after as applicable to your situation. Discontinue fertilization after the beginning of October to allow for a dormancy period during winter.

A few varieties you might consider adding to your landscape and appropriate for our region are suggested by Kathy Huber of the Houston Chronicle. Coincidentally, these are also roses promoted by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Earth-Kind program and a few from Extension’s Texas Superstar program: medium shrubs are Belinda’s Dream, Caldwell Pink, Katy Road Pink and Mutabilis; small shrubs are Marie Daly and Perle d’Or, climbers are Climbing Pinkie, Peggy Martin and Sea Foam.

Don’t forget to attend our Open Garden Day at BEES on Oct. 5 to discover additional favorites that perform in our sub-tropical region from Brazoria County Master Gardener experts. We have a small rose garden we are proud to show off and provide you with sustainable rose gardening tips and information. For information about upcoming programs, visit

Stephen Brueggerhoff is a Horticulture County Agent for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension-Brazoria County. Contact him at 979-864-1558 or

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