How to prune roses

How do you prune Roses & when’s the best time?

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How do you prune Roses - when's the best time?Your rose plant looked so good in its first few years. Now, it rarely produces roses and has become untidy.

Dig it up and start again? No! There is a very easy and satisfying solution; pruning.

To get the most from your roses, it’s highly important that you prune to encourage new growth. Generally, it’s good to be cruel to be kind. How and when to prune roses may depend on the variety.

What kind of Rose do I have?

In order to establish the correct time to prune a rose, we need to find out what kind of rose it is.

Some roses like to be pruned before flowering or putting out leaves and others after flowering.

Flowers on new growth

If your rose flowers from this season’s new growth, then prune in early Spring. Do this just before the leaf buds open.

Flowers on old growth

If it flowers on last year’s woody growth, then it should be pruned after flowering.

Continuous flowering shrub roses

Shrub roses (that continuously flowers throughout the season) should be pruned only once, every couple of years and reduced by a third. Reduce by removing the older growth.

So, how do you prune roses and when?

I will always suggest you cut just above a leaf node and check to see if there are any bugs on that node. It would be good to leave buds that are pointing outward and remove ones that are pointing inward. This will help prevent your rose from becoming too crowded and at higher risk of infections.

  • Hybrid Tea roses – Flowers from new growth. Prune early Spring down to 18-24 inches from the base.
  • Rambling roses – Flowers from old growth. Prune after flowering to 2-4 inches from the base.
  • Climbing roses – Flowers from old growth. Prune after flowering to required shape.
  • Modern ever-blooming roses – Flowers from new growth. Prune early Spring down to 18-24 inches from the base.
  • Grandiflora roses – Flowers from new growth. Prune early Spring down to 18-24 inches from the base.
  • Floribunda roses – Flowers from new growth. Prune early Spring down to 18-24 inches from the base.

Hard pruning Roses in Summer

Heavy pruning roses should really be when they are dormant. However, you can trim a rose during summer to increase a late-season bloom.

After your rose has finished the first flush of flowers, trim back but not too hard:

  • Water during the morning before you prune. Continue to water afterwards on a weekly basis.
  • Remove the top third of your bush.
  • Remove any dead or thin wood.
  • Remove any stems that appear below the graft line at the base of your rose.

How to deadhead a rose bush

Another important step in getting the best display from your rose is deadheading (also known as light pruning). Deadheading will encourage better growth and allow the rose to put more energy into new blooms.

Firstly, to dispel a few myths. The following is the common advice for pruning roses. Although it may help a little to prevent disease and encourage growth, the following is not essential:

  • You don’t have to cut at a 45-degree angle.
  • You don’t have to count 5 leaves down to find the precise place to cut.

Roses are very tough plants. Here’s how to deadhead a rose bush to guarantee more blooms:

  • Firstly, wear some thick gloves and cover your arms.
  • Ensure that your secateurs are sharp. A blunt blade may crush stems and increase the cases of fungal infection.
  • Cut just above a leaf node.
  • Burn or bin all deadheads to minimise the risk of fungal infection or insects.

Caring for your rose

After Winter, cut out any dead, dying or diseased growth. Don’t allow the rose canes to become overcrowded. Do this by removing weaker canes. Also, remove any crossing canes to prevent rubbing. When two rose canes rub together disease can easily enter in. Keep the centre of your rose plants open to allow for plenty of air circulation.

The RHS website has more information on how and when to prune roses. You can read the article by visiting the advice page: Rose pruning: general tips.

James Middleton

An obsessive gardener since 1982. Day-time job - web designer and developer and University lecturer.

1 Comment

  1. How to prune roses in warm, frost free climate zones, such as in California or Florida, where roses don’t go dormant, prune in late fall or early winter, right before cool weather and winter rains push growth.

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