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Stan V. Griep, Colorado Native Rosarian 40+ years

There are many helpful tools for the gardener on the market today. With the proper care, those tools can last for years. One of those tools is known as the pruner and is very helpful. I have a few different types of pruners from the big lopper type to my rosebush pruners. All of my pruners are of the by-pass type. The anvil type pruners squeeze and crush the living tissues as one uses them and thus can leave some significant damage at the cut and just below the cut. It is important to keep our pruners “tuned up,” so to speak, so they are ready to go when we need them.

One of those “tune-ups” I like to do is to keep the cutting blades disinfected. Even with a brand new pair of pruners, I will wipe the cutting blades down well with either a Clorox or other type of disinfectant wipe prior to using them. During pruning and deadheading times for my rosebushes, I will wipe the pruners down with a disinfectant wipe prior to starting. I prune one entire rosebush and then wipe the pruners down again before moving on to prune another rosebush.

In some cases, there may be a cane or two on a rosebush that looks to have something like a fungus upon it that needs pruning out. Even though I am still working on pruning the same rosebush, I will wipe the pruners down well before making any other pruning cuts on that same rosebush. After wiping the pruner blades down well each time mentioned, I swish the pruners back and forth in the air a few times to help dry the disinfectant left upon them by the wipes. Wiping the pruners down with the disinfectant wipes goes a long way towards preventing disease transfer from bush to bush.

Dirty pruners have been the culprit of nasty diseases sweeping through more than one rose bed! When the pruning chores are done, the pruners are wiped down twice with the disinfectant wipes and allowed to air dry between wipe downs. Once they are dry, the blades and working parts are sprayed down with either WD40 or some Silicone Spray Lubricant and placed in their proper place so it is easy to find them next time. Before using them the next time, the pruners are wiped down again with a disinfectant wipe to remove the protecting oils left on the pruners.

Another of the tune-ups I do is to check the pruner blades sharpness. Dull pruners will cause some of the same squeezing and crushing damage that the anvil pruners can. It will also leave messy pruning cuts with fragments of the cane or branch sticking out in various places. Dull pruners can also lead to stripping back the outer protective surface of branches or canes when the pruners are pulled back from the cut and an uncut portion is caught in the blades. Some reasonably priced pruner sharpener tools on the market make it easy to sharpen our pruners when needed. I purchased one like the one shown at this link: and have found it to work extremely well.

My Felco pruners have replaceable cutting blades so that when they get too dull or have been sharpened too many times, you just change out the cutting blade and you are ready to go again. This is a great feature if the main cutting blade becomes bent or damaged in some way.

Due to my arthritis, I cannot get down on my knees as I used to. So, I am always looking for tools that make the various garden chores easier. I found a tree pruner that has an adjustable head. With this pruner I can adjust the head for just the right angle of pruning cut and prune all of my roses in a standing position! No more need to get up and down at each rosebush. I can even take a chair or stool with me and prune the roses from a comfortable sitting position. Mine are made by Fiskars but I have seen some made by Corona and other garden tool manufacturers. Give them a try if you have arthritis or other conditions that don’t allow you to get up and down like you used to. After all, being out in the garden is where we want to be and finding ways to keep that possible are true treasures!

At the end of each season, all of my pruners are inspected again for sharpness and sharpened, to be ready for the next time of use. Each is well cleaned and wiped down with the disinfectant wipes and let air dry. My final touch is to spray them down with a lubricant/protecting coating and store away in their proper place.

One tip I would offer on hand held pruners, hold them in your hand and operate them a bit prior to buying them. Make sure they feel comfortable in your hand and that you can operate them easily. If you have to use them a lot, they really need to be comfortable in your hand and easy to operate. Check the blade alignment as well. If you can see light through the blade to the cutting surface area at any point when closed, the alignment is off and will lead to future problems. If the pruners are in a package, ask a store staff person to take them out for testing. If they won’t do so, keep looking for pruners that work for you.

Stan V. Griep is a Colorado Native Rosarian (40+ years), ARS Certified Consulting Rosarian, Denver Rose Society Member, Loveland Rose Society Member, and American Rose Society Member.

Posted August 9, 2013

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