Pruning A Heirloom Tea Rose

by Tricia
(Florissant, MO)

QUESTION: A 95 year old lady I'm caring for has a heirloom tea rose bush in her backyard.

She told me it is from a cutting from HER great-grandmother's rose bush and can be traced back to the Civil War.

This rose bush was planted about 1945.

She said it is a tea rose bush and has an amazing scent.

I am a fledgling gardener and don't want to make a mistake...

I'd like to know how best to prune this old rose bush as it's branches are very spidery and thin.

It looks pretty messy, but is very green.

I have to clear out the leaves and vines that have twisted up through it.

It's about 4' tall and 4' wide. Location is St. Louis, MO.

This lady sees very little but would be able to see the colors of blooms.

I hope to help it bloom to it's fullest potential as she would take great joy in that.

Attached are some photos.

She said I could take cuttings to start my own rose bush from hers so I would also need to know when and how to do this.
Thanks so much for your help!

ANSWER: Hi Tricia! The most important thing for you to find out is if this old tea rose is an ONCE summer blooming rose.

Meaning it doesn't repeat flower all season long.

An once-flowering rose bush only bloom on last years growth, so it should only be pruned AFTER flowering in summer.

However, if it's a repeat-flowering rose then it should be pruned in spring or late winter, when all danger of frost is gone.

This is how you prune a tea rose.

Begin by pruning it down about a third and prune to shape it all around.

Then cut out thin and overcrowded growth, and any criss-crossing canes.

Here is my page about pruning old roses.

Sorry your pictures didn't want to come up, but I was able to see them.

Regarding growing roses from cuttings go to this link for hwo to do that correctly.
Best Regards,

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