Moss Rose Pruning Tips

Moss rose is a plant that makes a good ground cover and is popular in rock gardens. It grows between 6 to 12 inches tall, blooms repeatedly and has rubbery textured blue-green foliage. The buds themselves can be red-purple, white, off-white, bright yellow, red-orange, yellow-orange, orange, apricot or dark red.

The plant has average water needs and is easy to grow since its heat and drought tolerant. The plants should be pruned to provide air circulation and reduce the chance of fungal diseases. Pruning also creates a neater appearance. Here are some tips for pruning moss rose.

Prune during the Right Time of Year

It's important to prune your plants during the right time of year. Prune too early or too late and you'll reduce the amount of blooms the plant produces, kill the plant, or weaken it so much that it becomes susceptible to diseases.

The ideal time to prune a moss rose plant is in early spring, just before the new growth begins and after the last hard frost. Remove winterkill. Light pruning throughout the season will help you plant look good. Be sure to regularly remove dead canes and spent flowers.

Choose the Right Tool

The ideal pruning tools for moss rose and many other plants is a long-bladed pruning knife with a curve at the end. These are available at any garden center. Shears work well too. Be sure to rinse the knife or shears with alcohol before pruning. Rinse them between plant prunings as well to disinfect them and reduce the chance of disease transfer.

Hold the knife or shears at a 45-degree angle. The slope of the angle should head toward the middle of the plant. If doing major pruning, seal the cuts with carpenter's glue to prevent insects from entering the plant and destroying it.

Correctly Dispose of the Cuttings

It may be tempting to simply leave the cuttings in the garden to decompose and provide additional nutrients, especially if you're only doing a minor pruning. Resist this urge. The pruning may be disease-laden and if you don't know this, you could be inadvertently destroying your entire moss rose garden. Decomposing plants also tend to attract maggots and other root eating pests and they can cause significant damage to your plants. Either throw out the cuttings or, if you're certain they're disease-free, place them in the compost bin located well away from the plants.

Remove Suckers

Suckers are shoots or underground runners found at the base of moss rose plants. They're new growth from the root and if left alone, they'll grow as big as the original plant. This can destroy the original plant by sucking all the nutrients from the roots and ultimately create an unattractive garden if they thrive.

It's important to prune suckers whenever you notice them. Check your moss rose plants regularly and carefully pull off any suckers by hand when you see them. If they don't come off easily by hand, you'll need to use sharp clippers and cut them off.