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Winter Newsletter – June 2021


JUNE 2021



Roses respond well to pruning. Pruning is not a difficult task if you use the right equipment and follow a few simple rules. In South Australia, pruning in July is recommended, there are a few exceptions including some old-fashioned roses and weeping standards which can be pruned after flowering in spring.

For all other roses, July is the time to remove dead or diseased branches, shorten healthy canes to promote vigorous new growth, maintain desirable size and shape and encourage better flowering.

Wear old clothes, sturdy footwear, a brimmed hat and preferably eye protection. you need good bi-pass secateurs like Felco or Fiskars, good loppers and a pruning saw. Wear all leather gloves, preferably gauntlets. A pruning saw is ideal for cuts over 2 ½ cm and removing old canes. Make sure your tools are sharp.

Felco’s instructions for sharpening, lubricating and adjusting blades are on their website

When you approach the bush, dont bother looking at the top third to half – this will be removed. Focus on the bottom half of the plant. Ideally, you want to retain strong, healthy growth. If sufficient new canes have grown from the base (water shoots), then you can remove the old canes by sawing them off flush at the base. Look at the bottom of the plant and remove any ‘suckers’ those shoots coming from below the bud union. Also remove canes crossing over the centre of the plant. Ultimately, you want rose bush to resemble a cup shape, free of growth in the middle allowing air to circulate.

The outer rim canes should be reduced to one-third to half of their original height and cut to 7mm above an outward facing bud (eye). Remove all leaves. Ideally cut at a 45-degree angle above the bud ‘eye’ where foliage was attached. Within a few weeks the dormant bud eye will begin to swell. In another three weeks the swelling will result in a young new stem.

The right tool and equipment - Photo: Newman's Nursery
The right tool and equipment - Photo: Newman's Nursery
45 Degree angle above 'eye' bud
45 Degree angle above 'eye' bud


Climbing roses require slightly different treatment. For climbers or pillars, first look at the base of the plant. If it has performed well, there will be a number of new canes (these are still green with no side shoots) from the base. These will provide the best flowers in the spring. Therefore, do not remove these.

Secondly, move up from the base of the plant, following older canes (left following the previous years’ pruning). Some will have strong new canes emerging partially along the old stem. Others will only have short stems along the cane. These would have produced flowers during the previous year. Determine how many stems you require. As a guide most climbers need at least 12 canes in order to wrap 6 canes onto a trellis on each side of the plant.

For a Pillar Rose, leave approximately 6 to 8 good canes growing from the base, then wrap them onto the pillar, half clockwise and the other half anti-clockwise and tie on.

Remove any remaining old foliage from the stems, fallen leaves and pruning remnants and place into green waste.

Once pruning is finished, a winter dormancy spray should be applied liberally – use pest oil, winter oil or Lime Sulphur. This will kill over-wintering aphids and spider mite eggs and fungal spores which hide in crack and crevasses on the stems and also on the ground under the rose plant. Copper Oxy Chloride spray can also be used; however, it can be detrimental to worms. The Winter Spray regime is important for pest and disease control and will ensure significantly reduced problems in spring.


Roses are not actively growing in winter and do not require feeding. However, roses benefit from an application of Neutrog ‘Seamungus‘. This is a soil and plant conditioner, manufactured from seaweed, fish, humid acid and manure. It stimulates the roots into strong healthy growth in late winter and early spring. Pelletised Seamungus is recommended, as pellets will breakdown with rainfall enhancing root growth and should be applied prior to mulching. 


After old fallen leaves and cuttings have been removed, an application of mulch is recommended. Generally, late winter and before the roses begin to produce shoots which can be accidentally broken off by spreading mulch.

Knight’s Roses recommend an application of 5cm of Neutrog’s ‘Whoflungdung‘. While it can be applied immediately around the base of mature roses (3 year and older) it is advised not to apply mulch closer than 15cms to new, one or two-year-old plants as sometimes damage can occur to young basal shoots.

Whoflungdung‘ comes in 20kg compressed bales. Apply water after application to settle the mulch in. Mulch significantly reduces evaporation from the surface (spring to autumn), saving up to 40% – 50% of the irrigation otherwise required; it cools the root zone and introduces good microbial activity into the soil.


The Rose Society of SA will be conduction two rose pruning demonstrations this winter.

  1. The International Rose Garden, Adelaide Botanic Gardens on Sunday, 20 June from 12.30 – 3.30pm. It will be led by Rose Society members and participants are encouraged to bring their pruning gear so that they can practice pruning under the supervision of rose pruning experts. General rose growing advise will also be available.
  2. Roses in the Heartland RSSA Branch will be holding  their annual Rose Pruning Demonstration on Sunday, 11th July from 1pm – 3pm at 3 Para Road, Evanston (Gawler). Attendees can practice pruning under supervision.

For more information visit the Rose Society of South Australia website


Q. 1. Melissa asked, “Would a climbing/rambling rose be suitable to cover a chicken coop in my yard which has little access to prune it.”

Hi Melissa, great question. Some of the old climbers or ramblers would be suitable. While you don’t have to prune them every year, it is recommended to give them a good prune every 4 – 6 years by removing very woody sections. While this seems severe, they do recover quickly. Roses such as ‘Rosa banksiae lutea‘ or ‘Lamarque‘ or ‘Climbing Pinkie‘ are possible options.

Q. 2. Janet and Sanjay asked, “I would like information on water shoots”.

Hi Janet and Sanjay, you have both asked questions about “water” or “basal shoots”. These are produced from the “bud” or “graft” union at the base of the plant providing the plant is healthy. These shoots are very important as they create the future structure of the plant and the best source of future flowering. When young, they many need a stake to protect them as they can be easily broken off by wind. Once they have flowered, these water shoots strengthen and can be trimmed or pruned. If your plant does not produce them, we suggest removing some older wood from the plant when pruning, following by applications of ‘Seamungus‘ after pruning and ‘Sudden Impact for Roses‘ in spring.

Contact Knight’s Roses for more information – phone +61 8 8523 1311 or visit our website