Best method to prune roses in autumn and prevent wind rock

Alan Titchmarsh explains how to correctly prune roses

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Both shrub and bush roses can grow very tall by autumn and should be cut back to keep them healthy before winter. While extreme weather of all types can cause damage to delicate garden roses, gardening experts have warned that wind rock is one to watch. October is an ideal time to protect your roses from harsh winds, and an expert at Ashridge Nurseries has shared exactly how to do it.

Wind rock occurs when a plant is moved around enough to break the tiny root hairs which are responsible for absorbing nutrients.

Even if your rose bush or shrub appears stable, broken root hairs mean the plant will struggle to absorb essential nutrients, causing it to “slowly starve”, according to experts at the Allotment Garden Diary.

Loose, damaged roots can compromise your spring display of roses the following year, especially if they are in an exposed location.

Fortunately, preventing wind rock damage is very easy to do, all you need is some clean secatuers and gardening gloves.

How to prune roses in autumn

All roses except climbing and rambling varieties will benefit from autumn pruning.

A nursery manager at Ashridge Nurseries said: “At this time of the year, try to reduce all the roses by about a third.

“It saves them getting blown around with the wind and the Autumn gales, which just rocks the roots: it’s called wind-rock.”

He explained that the taller your roses grow, the more likely they are to get “rocked around” and will struggle to grow the following year.

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The main aim of October pruning is to remove old, thin and spindly growth.

Not only will this keep the plant healthy, but also make it easier to prune the following spring.

According to the manager at Ashridge Nurseries, shaping the plant like a vase makes it easy to remove any crossed twigs in the plant.

Cut the plant down from the very top of the plant to the base network of thicker stems.

Dead wood that has died over the summer should be removed along with any “snags” from old pruning cuts.

If left on the plant, the snags will continue moving further down the stem as it grows.

As a rough guide, it is best to cut each leggy stem back to the nearest bud, though this is not essential as hard pruning should be done in spring.

Using clean, sharp secateurs is best to avoid damaging the plant before it goes dormant.

Roses aren’t the only plants that should be pruned to protect them against wind rock.

Several other popular garden flowers will also benefit from being cut back in autumn.

Buddleia, Dogwoods, Lavatera and Abutilon are all vulnerable to root damage from harsh winds.

Prune in the same way as roses to remove top-heavy growth and thin out plants growing in exposed spots around your garden.

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