The following is an article written by Robert B. Martin, Jr. of Pasadena, California. Robert wrote this article for the Rose Parade Newsletter. Robert is also Editor of the American Rose Society Quarterly Rose Exhibitors' Forum.
"Of all of the tools of the Rosarian the most important are pruning shears. The purchase of pruning shears is not a place to cut corners or attempt to save money. Good pruning shears can last nearly a lifetime and viewed in terms of their years of use, they are quite inexpensive. They also make a nice Christmas gift for your favorite Rosarian.
Although there are other pruning shears of value on the market, a survey of Rosarians will reveal that by far the most preferred pruning shears are those manufactured by Felco. Felco is a Swiss Company that has set the standard for professional pruning shears for more than forty years. Their line of shears is, however, so extensive that considerable confusion exists as to the differences between each model. The purpose of this article is to set forth in detail the entire line of Felco pruning shears and related products.
Felco 2 Pruner: The Felco 2 is usually called the "original" there being no explanation I have uncovered of why there is no Felco 1. They have a replaceable, precision ground forged cutting blade, with sap groove and soft wire cutter. The handles are a tough forged alloy, which are easy to grip; rubber shock absorbers between the handles cushion the impact of cutting. When not in use the handles are held closed by a locking mechanism on a pivot bolt. The pruners are 8 1/2" in overall length and sell for 30.00 and up.
Felco 4 Pruner: The Felco 4 is often called the "basic pruner" and is basically a stripped down Felco 2 without the locking mechanism or shock absorbers. The pruners retail for 26.00; the small cost savings is clearly not worth the difference in features. A more economical stripped down model is the Felco 5 described below. These economy pruners are obviously designed for large scale operators and make little sense for a serious Rosarian.
Felco 5 Pruner: The Felco 5 is the down-scale pruner in the line containing little more than the replaceable cutting blades. They are 9" in overall length and retail at the "bargain" price of 19.50 and up.
Felco 6 Pruner: The Felco 6 is a smaller scale pruner with shorter blades which is good for those with smaller hands; they also allow more precision pruning of miniature roses. The pruners are 8" in overall length and sell for 30.00 and up.
Felco 7 Pruner: The Felco 7 is the top of the line shears with all the features one can imagine. The blade design is angled for close pruning; there is also a sap groove and a wire-cutting notch. The handles have an ergonomic design with little curves that fit well in the hand. Of particular interest is a rotating lower handle that is said to allow fingers to move naturally, reducing hand fatigue and the chance of blisters during prolonged pruning. Personally I find the action of the rotating angle to be odd and recommend that the buyers actually test the shears in their own hands before pruning. The pruners are 8 1/2" in overall length and sell for 42.00 and up.
Felco 8 Pruner: The Felco 8 is the same as the Felco 7 without the rotating handle. These are my pruners of choice, as I do not like the feel of the rotating handle and am also suspicious of additional moving parts. But I do like the ergonomic design of the handles and believe this pruner which sells for 33.00 and up is well worth the slight increase in price over the original Felco 2.
Felco 9 Pruner: The Felco 9 is the same as the Felco 8 with reversed blade, anvil and locking catch for left-handers. They sell for 30.00 and up.
Felco 10 Pruner: The Felco 10 is the same as the Felco 7 reversed for left handers, complete with rotating handle. They sell for 42.00 and up.
Felco 11 Pruner: The Felco 11 is similar to the original Felco 2, with a more narrow, pointed anvil blade for extra close cutting. It has an ergonomic handle design, is 8 1/4" in overall length and sell for 32.00 and up.
Felco 12 Pruner: The Felco 12 is a compact pruner like the Felco 6, designed for small hands, with the rotating handles. It is 7 1/4" in overall length and sells for 42.00 and up.
Felco 13 Pruner: Introduced in 1996 the Felco 13 features extra long handles to give better leverage and for two hand use on heavy branches. It is 13 1/2" in overall length and sells for 38.00 and up.
Felco 30 Pruner: The Felco 30 are anvil shears that I cannot recommended for roses. They are 8 1/2" in overall length and sell for 29.00 and up.
One of the best things about owning Felco pruners is the wide availability of replacement parts which can be used to extend the life of the shears. These include the following at approximate prices:
Cut Blade: .................................... 9.95
Hook Blade: .................................. 9.95
Pivot Bolt & Nut: ............................ 7.60
Spring Pack: ................................. 3.25
Repair Parts: (All parts not listed above) .... 5.45
"Although some local nurseries carry Felco pruning shears it is rare to find a wide selection and sometimes you have to ask since they are kept under the counter. There are many places to purchase Felco's in catalogs and a few online locations but one of the most complete and perhaps the best pricing I have found is at Frostproof Growers Supply. They can be purchased online at their website which is: http://www.frostproof.com or you can call them at 800-635-3621."
Short note about the author
Editor of the American Rose Society Quarterly Rose Exhibitors' Forum