Pruning Iceberg roses – it’s simpler than you think

‘Iceberg’ roses are not like other roses where old wood is removed during winter pruning to rejuvenate the bush, says Ludwig Taschner of Ludwig’s Roses.

The difference is that ‘Iceberg’ is able to produce new stems from old wood for many years and that  is the secret of its incredibly vigorous growth.

Therefore, at pruning time, it is not essential to cut out the thick, older mature stems. The bush can simply be trimmed or thinned out.

Ludwig warns against cutting back too severely into the older, mature stems in which the eyes have retracted into a deep dormancy. It takes longer for these to be activated and to sprout. Even  when they do sprout, the new shoots are very sappy and easily break and bend when the spring storms arrive or the heavy flower clusters are produced.

Ludwig’s general step by step guide
This is for a ‘moderatepruning of a large ‘Iceberg’ bush, or those that are growing as a hedge.
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Step 1: cut away the top growth and flowers so that you can look into the plants and see how they are growing.
Step 2: Follow the line of strong growth and take out the weak growth that has been bypassed.
Step 3: Remove crossing growth
Step 4: Don’t cut out the thin green stems that grow out of the old wood. Rather trim them back by two thirds. They shoot quickly in spring and provide food to the roots.
Step 5: A particular characteristic of Iceberg is that flower bearing shoots have widely spaced eyes. Cut back to an eye. If you cut into a shoot without eyes, it will die back to the nearest eye.
Step 6: Make sure all the main stems are the same height.

‘Pruning Standard ‘Iceberg’
The approach is the same as with an ‘Iceberg’ bush. Because standards become so big there is a danger of the head snapping off. If this is the case, it may be necessary to prune more severely to achieve a balance between the stem and the crown.

Pruning ‘Iceberg’ roses in a garden bed
When ‘Iceberg’ is used as a bedding rose and is planted closer together or with other roses, then pruning can be a bit more severe. This rejuvenates the bush and forces out basal shoots. The bush will be smaller and have more leaves lower down.

Follow the general step by step guide (above) and then reduce the main stems by about a third. Remove side shoots and reduce forks to one tine.

Correcting a lopsided bush
A lopsided bush is not able to correct itself because sap flows vertically. This means that the greater number of leaves on one side will send more food to the roots on the same side, and less food gets to the roots on the other side. To correct this, cut down the stronger stem so that it is at the same height as the weaker stems on the other side of the bush.

Pull off all leaves because they can harbour pests and diseases. Work compost and Vigorosa fertiliser into the soil around the roses to a depth of 20cm. Water well afterwards.

Protect your roses against any lingering disease by spraying with Oleum or double strength Ludwig’s Insect Spray. Water weekly until end of August, then increase to twice a week.

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