The Council Gardener - get your roses ready!


Spring is in the air so The Council Gardener Danny Shand is back for another season of handy gardening tips.

The first in our monthly series is about one of the nation’s favourite flowers, roses, and how to prune them, and also all about fertiliser.

Remember, gardening is all about growing, so let's grow together!

Council Gardener March-HD 1080p

Rose Pruning

Protective personal equipment

  • Gloves
  • Eye protection if working above waist height

Tools needed

  • Sharp clean pair of secateurs. Use alcohol wipe to clean blade as not to transfer disease.

First steps

Remove the 3 D’s completely -

  • Dead
  • Diseased
  • Dying/damaged

After this, you will then remove any crossing or rubbing stems.

Types of roses and pruning needed

Floribunda (lots of stems & many smaller flowers / shrub/patio roses)

light prune to around 4-7 buds, always looking to keep shape. May remove some stems completely to promote better shape and aeration.

Highbred T (usually three larger main stems with less, larger flowers)

Prune down to between 3-4 buds. Only trying to leave the three strongest stems keeping shape in mind as well.


When pruning roses, the desired shape you are looking for is that similar to a chalice or vase with nothing in the centre to allow the plant to air. This is also achieved by always selecting and outward facing bud on each stem.

The cut you will make be ¼ of inch above each bud at a 45% angle away from the bud. This is to allow the rain/water to run away from each bud to prevent rotting.


Almost 2/3 of gardeners don’t fertilise their plants. This is a big issue as plants need your help to get the nutrients they need to grow best!

The science bit

Like us, plants need certain elements to grow, and some elements are more difficult/impossible for plants to obtain.

The main elements needed

Nature provides

  • Oxygen (air in the atmosphere/ water)
  • Hydrogen (water)
  • Carbon (us humans/ air in the atmosphere)

Other elements needed to be introduce to promote plant growth

  • Nitrogen (N) = Promotes healthy leaf growth which plants need to create food through photosynthesis.
  • Phosphorus (P) = supports the growth of roots, stems, blossoms and fruits
  • Potassium (K) = disease resistance, general plant vigour.

Types of fertiliser

There are only two types of fertiliser - organic and synthetic.

My opinion is to always use organic as it is better for the environment. The reason behind this that most synthetic fertilisers kill beneficial micro-organisms, compared to organically-sourced fertiliser which promotes beneficial organisms which help plants grow.

Forms of fertiliser and application

Granular (powder-like substance)

  • Scatter on soil around plant, do not get on stems or leaves as this burn them.
  • Water in afterwards
  • Long-lasting and with immediate effect

Slow release (pellets)

  • Easy to use, just mix pellets in to soil
  • Really long lasting

Can apply directly to soil even when planting

Water soluble (liquid)

  • Diluted with water
  • Fast acting
  • Must be applied more often due to speed the plant takes the nutrients

Organic (mulch/compost)

  • Incorporated into soil
  • Add organic matter
  • Slow release of nutrients
  • Has other benefits such as preventing weeds