Milk, Pruning Roses, Plants and Antiques

Using milk as a deer deterrent has gotten a lot of attention. My husband, Jerry, bought a sacrificial pot of pansies and put it in an area that the deer commonly use, about two weeks ago. He gave it the milk treatment and lo and behold, not only is the plant still there but it’s blooming! I lost 300 pansy plants to deer a few winters ago, so I know this is one of their favorites. They smell the sweet blooms and eat them. I am a believer in milk!

Not so fast, said my husband. How do we know the deer are using this path and noticed the pansy pot? Maybe they’re concentrating their food search in another area, now that grass is growing and shrubs are leafing out. He thinks we need to get a second sacrificial pot of pansies and not douse it with milk, put it next to the doused one and see if the deer will eat it. I hate to think about buying a pot of pansies for the deer to eat but he’s right. We’ll keep you posted.

Pruning Roses

It should be settled enough now to start pruning roses.

Hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses require annual pruning in the spring. The only tools needed are sharp hand pruners and gloves. Remove branches that are dead, damaged, diseased, thin, weak, growing towards the center of the plant and branches that cross or interfere with other branches. Cut at least one inch below damaged areas. On old, heavy bushes, you may need to use a lopper to cut out one or two of the oldest canes each year.

Then cut back the remaining canes. The height you cut to will depend upon the normal habit of each rose bush. Floribundas and hybrid teas are usually cut back to 12 to 18 inches, but taller growing hybrid teas and grandifloras should be cut to two feet tall. Make cuts at a 45 degree angle above a strong bud on the outside of the cane. Aim the cut upward from the inner side of the bush to push growth outward and promote healthy shoots and flowers.

Other types of roses get pruned differently:

Tree roses: Cut branches to within 6 to 10 inches of the base of the rose head to encourage compact, rounded, vigorous new growth.

Miniature roses: Cut out dead growth and remove old rose hips, but don’t cut back.

Old fashioned rambler roses: These roses have clusters of flowers produced on canes that grew last year, so don’t prune until after bloom or you’ll cut off this year’s bloom. Remove some of the large, old canes. Tie new canes to a support for the next year.

Large flowering climbing roses: These roses have flowers more than two inches across and some are repeat bloomers. Prune in autumn before cold weather sets in. Cut out dead and diseased canes. Then remove one or two of the oldest canes each season to make room for new ones. Shorten the side shoots to three to six inches after flowering.

If you’re confused by all this, check the American Rose Society’s website:

Plants and Antiques

If you’re a plant collector, you might want to visit Akron, Ohio between May 20th and June 18th for Stan Hywet Hall’s public plant sale.

Stan Hywet, a Tudor revival mansion with extensive gardens, built by the Sieberling family from 1912 to 1915, offers fascinating house and garden tours. Many spring plants, including wildflowers, bulbs, shrubs and trees will be in bloom. It’s well worth the trip, about a three and a half to four hour drive from Charleston

For more information, visit or phone (330) 836-5533.

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