Grooming

Using sharp clippers, you can spruce up your rosebushes whenever something unattractive about the plant catches your critical eye. I'm not talking about major shaping cuts here (see the upcoming "Pruning" section), just tidiness. Here's stuff you can cut out any time you see it:

1 Dead wood: Remove dead canes down to the ground level.

1 Damaged wood: Cut it back into about 1 inch of healthy wood.

1 Misplaced stems: Take off stems that are rubbing together (choose one and spare the other), stems that are taking off in the wrong direction, and stems that are trailing on the ground.

1 Suckers: In a grafted plant, these errant canes emerge from below the graft union (the bulge at the base of the bush). The suckers look different from the rest of the bush — they're often smoother, straighter, and lighter in color. Another clue: They sprout leaves and occasionally mongrel flowers that look nothing like the main bush. Off with their heads! (Well, more precisely, cut them off flush to the ground.)

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