Pruning Candelabras

Rose pruning continues. Candelabras are those large multi-branched growths that produce, essentially, a rose bouquet of sorts all on one main stem. When a rose has a lot of pent-up energy, or when the weather is particularly favorable and the water and fertilizer are plentiful, the plant may send up one of these structures. Some roses never produce this type of growth, while for others, it is common.

The question I consider here is: how to prune them.

Candelabras often have a great amount of strong, fresh cane. Good stuff! Plenty of material to provide new flowering growth, right?

Well...sometimes. Sometimes not. The candelabra canes often have very few bud eyes. Bud eyes, found just above the area where a leaf attaches to the stem, are the places where new growth emerges. Here's a cane showing the bud eyes (in rectangles):

No or very few bud eyes means no new or very little new flowering growth. That's a problem. I cut those candelabra structures back to a good bud eye, no matter how low I have to go.

Another problem with a candelabra is that you may have a plant with several other strong healthy canes, all of about four feet in height...and then you have one eight foot tall candelabra, far out of proportion to the rest of the plant.

What to do with that?

The decision there is easy if the plant has several strong healthy young canes besides the much taller candelabra. If I have a desire for a shapely plant, I cut off the candelabra to the point where it's about the height of the other canes.

I would also cut off the entire branched portion of the candelabra if the rose is a variety with weak canes, or if it was in a particularly windy spot, where a top heavy structure would likely be snapped off by a wind storm.

The decision gets tougher from there. What if the plant's best, newest, healthiest cane is only that candelabra? What if the candelabra is full of bud eyes and ready to produce plenty of new flowering growth? There you get into judgment calls, where further thought is helpful. Is the plant going to suffer if it loses all that fresh growth? Can you live with a lopsided plant? Is it a rose that sulks after hard pruning, or does it respond to hard pruning with a burst of new growth? That new growth emerging from a candelabra may produce much smaller flowers than the original candelabra did--is that okay? Is it in a windy spot? Is it planted behind other roses, so that it will be better seen if it is left tall? Do you absolutely have to have those potential flowers, no matter what? And so on. Those are the kind of questions that will tell you where to cut.

As I said, some roses produce a lot of candelabras, while others never do. 'Irish Hope' is the king of candelabras in this garden. Here's a small 'Irish Hope' candelabra. You can see the spent flowers at the tips of the structure:

So you think that is a small, unimpressive candelabra? I agree. But that particular candelabra is a candelabra growing off of one small branch of another far larger candelabra! As I said, 'Irish Hope' is candelabra king.

Fortunately, the plant is placed behind a couple of other roses, so at about 10 feet tall, it is easily seen even behind the other two. It also has the support of the house behind it for those tall canes. They are strong, but being able to lean against the house doesn't hurt.


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