Hooping roses to maximise flowering is a technique I first saw done in Ayrlies Garden when Neil Ross was head gardener. If you have a rose which puts out long, whippy growths, arching those growths over and tying them down hugely increases the number of flowers. This is because it encourages all the leaf buds along the length of the stem to set flower buds as well by dispersing the hormones which trigger flowering, rather than concentrating them at the top. I insert wire hoops and tie the runners down with stockinette. The ground cover plants will hide the wire hoops by spring time. It takes a bit of space – a metre or more on each aspect. In a narrow space, you can do it to either side only in a free form re-creation of espalier. It does work, I can vouch for that. The wire hoops are easy to relocate each season as required though I sometimes leave the long runners in place for more than one season, pruning back all the side growths.
I am pruning roses now, but those gardeners in more frosty conditions usually leave it later in the winter. Pruning encourages the rose into growth and that fresh growth is particularly vulnerable to getting burned by frost. Rake out all the fallen rose leaves while you are about it. These can harbour disease and, like spent brassicas, should not be put through the compost heap unless you make hot compost to kill off the nasties.
For more information, check out my earlier post: a short lesson in hooping.
First printed in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.