Pruning Roses Early – Patent vs Non Patent Varieties

Question:

Can I start pruning my roses now, or do I need to wait until January? Also, I'm going to replace several bushes that are struggling. So, are patent varieties better performers than non-patent roses? Do they receive a patent because of their color, and are they more disease-resistant?

Answer:

  •  The pruning window is now open for roses. The roses you prune today will be just as healthy as those pruned in January/February. You can pick whatever time is convenient for you. You may wish to postpone pruning those bushes that still have flower buds on them. Although the foliage is poor, the flower color will be vibrant.
  • The difference between a patent and a non-patent rose is seventeen or more years. Not its color, disease-resistant, or any other characteristic.
  • A plant patent is issued to all new rose varieties introduced into the marketplace. It is how the rose hybridizer is compensated for its effort. Anyone who wishes to propagate and distribute the variety must purchase a patent tag for each plant from the hybridizer. They sell metal patent tags to authorized growers to recoup their costs associated with that variety. Although we see new varieties every year, they are not developed overnight. A new introduction is the result of many years of trial and error. The patent tag cost varies significantly between varieties. It could be anywhere from a quarter to several dollars.
  • After seventeen years, the patent expires and becomes a non-patent variety. Now, anyone can reproduce it free of charge. So a patent variety introduced in 2021 will become a non-patent rose in 2038. The rose is the same whether it's a non-patent or patent variety.
  • Newer rose varieties are more resistant to diseases than old-timers. Today, hybridizers are cross-breeding resistant varieties from the 1980s and 1990s for the resistant varieties of the 21st century. I'm always curious about the parentage of each year's new introductions. It gives me a clue as to how a particular variety will perform in our varied microclimates.