Alcohol is the gardeners best friend when it comes to pruning Roses

No, I’m not talking about the huge quantities of wine that Cruella (my wife) and I are consuming during the almost continuous lockdowns imposed on us all. What I am taking about is medicinal alcohol that you will need to cauterise and anesthetise your various cuts, wounds and general abrasions that your Roses will inflict upon you during the annual prune.

It is an interesting but disturbing fact that a number of gardeners die each year from sepsis of the blood caused by cuts whilst gardening. Now I don’t want to scare you but it is better to be safe than sorry. The photo below shows my little bottle of medicinal alcohol together with some heavy duty make up removal pads that I stole from Cruella. Before you start pruning give your secateurs a good clean with the alcohol to stop cross infection then keep the others for cleaning up the blood and gore inflicted by the Roses.

Better safe than sorry …especially if you take aspirin; it usually ends up a blood bath.

14th January. Things I have been doing lately:

🌺 Pruning climbing Roses. I have six climbing Roses, two are doing very well, two are doing middling, and two I had to move last Summer as they were getting too much sun. Pruning climbers is different to pruning standard Roses. With climbers you want to keep the height but lose the bulk. To do this you should start with about 6 strong stems growing from the roots (if you have more it looks messy). Let these grow year on year until you are happy with the height. Each year start by pruning out any diseased, dead or crossing side shoots. Once you are satisfied with the result then prune about a third off each side shoot. This process will encourage growth and flowering.

The photos below show my climbers before and after their annual prune. The last two photos show my most successful ones. You may not be able to tell the difference, but I assure you the plants know. Click on each photo for a larger view.

🚑 Pruning standard and shrub Roses. I have two beds of 20 mixed Roses. With standard Roses you can be much more severe. Do the normal stuff like cutting out dead, diseased and crossing stems then, depending on how long the plant has been in the ground you treat it in different ways. For the first couple of years just cut the plant back by one third. But thereafter you can more or less take it to the ground if you like. With many Roses the greater the cutback the stronger the growth.

The photos below show my Rose beds before I started with the annual prune and then after its completion. You can tell the difference if you look closely, as you will see my blood spattered throughout the beds. Click on each photo for a larger view.

🌱 Pruning Trailing Lantana. Most people in Spain have Lantana in all its various varieties. But, I particularly like trailing Lantana, especially when it is planted in parts of the garden that are gravelled. It’s long trailing stems stretch out over the stones providing island beds of planting, whilst it’s long flowering season gives long term interest. When pruning trailing Lantana take it back by about two thirds. Ideally you should cut it back to forked stems, but there is no need for perfection, just go for it.

The photos below show one of my many Lantana in its overgrown and sprawling Winter state. The second photo shows the plant pruned back and ready for a spurt of Spring growth. Click on each photo for a larger view.

🌵 Drastic pruning of Yucca. I have a number of Yucca in pots that are placed along with other plants along the back and side of my house. The recent high winds have caused chaos with these plants as they are continually blown over and end up damaging the other plants close by. Up until now I have just been picking them up on a daily basis and cleaning up around them. But to be honest this is a continual problem that I have tried to solve in the past by tying the plants to the balustrade close by.

it is now time for some drastic action. I have decided to lower the levels of all these Yuccas to stop them being so prominent a target for the wind. To achieve this I have sawn the top two thirds off each plant leaving them looking rather comical. But do not despair. As Yucca are canes they will begin sprouting new leaf spikes growth from each side of the sawn stem. I will then keep these at a reasonable hight to stop the problem happening again.

The photos below show some of the carnage that had to take place. I pretended that it was an episode of “Game of Thrones” and I told each plant Winter was coming! Click on each photo for a larger view.

🍁 Making leaf mould. By now you should have cleared up all your fallen deciduous leaves; especially if they are lying on your lawn as they will kill the grass. Don’t just throw your leaves away as they will eventually breakdown into lovely rich leaf mould which you can use as compost. The simplest way to do this is just gather up all your leaves and put them into plastic sacks. Tie the sacks at the top then using a fork pierce the bag a number of times to encourage air circulation. The sacks should be placed out of the way in a shady corner of your garden and left for about a year. You can then use them as a compost mulch or place them on your compost heap to break down further. The photo below shows my leaves bagged up and waiting for nature’s miracle to take place.

It may look an unloved corner of my garden, but it is a very important one.

Author: spanishgarden

I live in both Spain and the UK and am a very keen gardener. I garden every day and enjoy sharing all the secrets that God allows us to discover in our gardens.

4 thoughts on “Alcohol is the gardeners best friend when it comes to pruning Roses”

  1. That sounds very brave. In my old house in England I had over 100 mature Roses and to save time I would just use a hedge trimmer to prune some years . The results were ok.


  2. Your roses on the ground look like carpet roses. Wicked! Even if they are not as thorny as hybrid tea roses, they are nastier to work with. They get all tangled with those wiry stems that whip around so wildly when tugged apart. Yuck! I just pruned a bed of about fifty or so, and must still prune a row of about half as many. However, the row will be dug and relocated, so will be pruned when that happens a bit later. I enjoy hybrid tea roses, and find that they are not so offensive when pruned. However, they are grown for flowers more than their practicality in a landscape, so do not live at work.


      1. Not really. I have been pruning roses since I was a kid, so know how to do it without getting bitten to much. I wear short sleeves and no gloves. I find that gloves and sleeves only get snagged.


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