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Knockout Your Knockouts

March 4, 2018
One of the toughest fights gardeners have is the yearly bout to prune the roses. Today I’ll give you some training tips to make sure your Knockouts don’t knock you out. Every fighter knows you got to have the right equipment. First and foremost on the list are good gloves. No….not those gloves…..heavy leather gloves to keep the thorns from cutting you up. Second, you got to jab hard with some good bypass pruners for clean cuts, like my favorite Felco pruner. No ineffective punches, like Anvil pruners, which only crush and damage the stem and delay recovery. When you need a big punch for larger woody canes, try a bypass lopper. Round one in the fight to prune Knockout roses is to reduce the height of the plants by one half in the spring and then by another third again in late summer. Round two….Prune canes that are obviously dead and without any growth. Round three….open the canopy up by removing crossing branches and any branches growing back into the center of the plant. And for the final round, I like to fertilize after pruning to help the rose recover and support the new growth. Newly planted Knockout roses need to be trained. If left alone, they’ll grow into a large and unruly tough opponent. But regular pruning will train them to be compact and reduce the need for a cut man. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.

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