Hard Pruning Old Wood

I have had a Pope John Paul II for over a decade. I didn’t prune sufficiently in the early years because I wanted to let it grow big and tall, and I didn’t really understand the value of hard pruning. Now it is woody. The foliage is not as lush as it once was, and the flowers are smaller. Last year I decided that the time had come to rejuvenate it. I pruned off one of the two large canes that supported the whole of the bush. New canes are growing in that area. So far so good. This year I need to prune off more of the old wood to keep the rejuvenation going. But I’m hesitant to remove the entire woody cane that remains. It’s huge and without it, there will only be the new canes that sprouted last year. Would it do any good to prune off some of the old wood higher up – perhaps at stem junctures? Would that be sufficient to encourage new growth at the crown? Or do I just need to bite the bullet and remove the entire thing? Hopefully, I’ve explained the situation well enough. I’m attaching a photo. Keep in mind that new spring growth has just started here in the high desert of Nevada (Zone 7).

I think you’ll be ok either way. Me personally I would be just like you and hesitant to prune that entire woody cane. But I would cut it back some like you wondered. You might wait until after the first bloom flush to see if any other basal canes emerge and then make a decision on the big woody cane. If there are some good basal breaks then I would go ahead and remove the big woodie.


Thanks so muuch for your thoughts! Waiting until after the first flush sounds like a good compromise.

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You should have kept up with pruning.Get rid of the old canes and let the new ones take over.old canes slow down on rose production and the roses are smaller.