Learn rose pruning from a master

Sacramento Bee readers share their gardening adventures.

Winter rose pruning – an annual task now underway in gardens throughout the Sacramento area – is both a chore and an art. No matter how much you think you know, you can always learn more.

“Did you ever wonder how some people shape their roses to different shapes and sizes?” said master rosarian Elsina Dean of the Mother Lode Rose Society. “Pruning your plants gives you the assurance that your plant will stay healthy while producing large flowers with strong stems. Airflow is improved by removing the canes from the center of the plant.”

It’s one thing to talk about pruning; it’s much more educational to see it in action. For both beginners and seasoned veterans, the society will host a special hands-on workshop led by master rosarian and retired entomologist Baldo Villegas. Readers may recall Baldo’s Acres, Villegas’ two-acre garden in Orangevale packed with more than 2,500 rose bushes. He knows how to prune efficiently and effectively to produce loads of flowers.

See Villegas in action and ask questions during his presentation at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 7 at the Amador Senior Center, 229 New York Ranch Road, Jackson. Admission is free and the public is welcome.

Among the most common questions: “How much should you prune?”

“You will learn from Baldo how important it is to cut away the dead, damaged or diseased canes and the technique of pruning different varieties such as hybrid teas, floribundas, miniatures and minifloras,” Dean said.

For gardeners about to attack their rose beds, Dean had these reminders:


Keep your tetanus shots updated;

get a booster shot every 10 years. Tetanus bacteria is present in soil and you can become infected from a tiny scratch — such as a prick from a thorn.


Keep your clippers and other tools clean and sharp;

they’ll work better and you’ll get the job done faster.


Do not put rose debris

in your compost pile; it may carry disease.


“After pruning” is the time to apply alfalfa pellets

or slow-release fertilizer to take advantage of winter rains. Mulch around the bushes to conserve water and to prevent weeds.


Do you have a gardening photo, tip or story to share? Or do you want to publicize a community garden event or activity? Post your news via our virtual SacBee Garden at Also, email your submissions to h& (put “SacBee Garden” in the subject line). Or mail it to: SacBee Garden, Home & Garden, Sacramento Bee, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA