When To Prune Roses & Planting Distance For A New Hedge

Question:

 I am told that my Autumn Sunset rose should be pruned in the spring. Do you agree?  

Answer:

  •  I don't disagree, but at the same time, I do agree with pruning roses in the spring.
  • Pruning roses is a year-round activity. I consider it pruning when you remove the spent flowers or when you shape the plant.
  • You do your heaviest pruning in the winter or early spring, January through March. You can prune later, and the only consequence is you delay the first flush of blooms. You would expect the first set of flowers in April, and they continue to bloom throughout the summer and fall.
  • There are some very old varieties such as Cecil Brunner that only blooms in the spring. These varieties should be pruned after the blooming period.
  • Autumn Sunset is a newer climbing rose, introduced in 1998 and blooms throughout the year. It was one of the first to hybridized to bloom both on the old and new canes or wood. This allows gardeners to prune at any time of the year without the fear of removing the flowering wood.
  • Thus, I would do my heaviest pruning while it's dormant, January or February. With a minimal amount of leaves, you easily identify the deadwood and thin out the denser growth developed over the past growing seasons. I'd continue to prune or better said, shape the plant after every flush of flowers. So, pruning in the spring is okay.

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Question:

 I'm planting a Bay Laurel for a tall hedge. Being a patient person, I know these plants will fill in to make a lush, thick hedge, but it will take time. How far apart do you recommend planting them? The planting distances are not listed in my resource books. I'm thinking about spacing them three to four feet apart. 

Answer:

  • Most gardening books are somewhat vague when it comes to the planting distances for hedges. Three to four feet apart is very expectable, so is four to five feet.
  • Keep in mind, it takes patience to establish a mature hedge that is solid from the ground up. Unfortunately, many people are in a hurry, so they're disappointed with the results.
  • The closer the plants are spaced, the faster they'll fill. This requires more plants, and the hedge will be slower in reaching the desired height.
    • Why, because the bottom of the hedge needs to develop first. All too often, hedges are allowed to reach their maximum height first, leaving holes or gaps throughout the hedge. It's assumed that the plants will naturally fill in, which may or may not happen.
    • The planting distance determines the number and the size of the gaps, along with the time it takes to become a solid wall. The hedge must be pruned often to force the development of the lateral shoots. This lateral growth is how a hedge becomes and remains dense over time. It should take several growing seasons to establish a mature hedge.
  •  Ultimately, the correct answer as to the planting distance is both a trade-off and a judgment call on your part