Pruning Rose Bushes

Learn When and How to Prune Roses

Pruning RosesLearn to Prune and Trim Roses

When Pruning Rose Bushes, you need to know how and when to prune roses for more blooms. It is very important in maintaining the health and beauty of the bush.

Caring for rosebushes involves knowing when to cut roses back to get the best out of the plants.

By selectively pruning rosebushes, and knowing how and when to cut back roses, you can increase the size of the plant and the number of blooms.

Sears Parts Direct

Pruning is technically done to achieve one or more goals;

  • Make the plant more productive
  • Keep the plant healthy
  • Control it's size
  • Encourage growth in a particular way or direction

How much you prune, and the timing of it depends on:

  • The Rose Type
  • Your Hardiness zone
  • The condition of the rosebush
  • The amount of Winterkill
  • What you expect from the bush

Pruning rose bushes removes the dead or diseased growth, encourages healthy new growth, gives you more blooms, and balances the size and shape of the plant. The annual pruning depends on when the rose blooms.

In warmer climates, you will prune more heavily to stimulate new growth and get larger flowers.

In cold climates, roses are pruned lightly, just eliminating the dead wood.

Rose Types vary in their pruning needs;

Hybrid Tea Roses, Miniatures, Grandiflora's,Floribunda's

These types require heavy annual pruning if they are to grow and produce rose flowers at their best.


Old Garden roses, some Ramblers and Climbers, Species roses and  Shrub roses that flower on second season wood, get pruned right after they finish flowering.

Shrub and Old Garden roses usually only need a light annual pruning such as any other woody plant that you grow. If you must prune these roses, it is best to do it right after the flowers fade .

OnceBlooming Roses should be pruned after their flowers fade. This is because cutting any other time will cut away wood that would produce the next generation of flowers.

Climbers vary in their needs; They may need heavy pruning to cut off winter kill; or they may only need a light shaping; it also depends on the time of year. You can remove dead or damaged wood at any time of the year, but if the rose blooms on old wood (the canes from the previous year),prune after they flower. More about pruning climbers..

A Good pair of gardening gloves are a must!! Rose thorns are not very forgiving if your hands and arms are unprotected!

It is a very wise investment to make if you are a rose gardener. Whether you're trimming rose canes, or tying them up, when pruning rose bushes, you'll need to protect your skin.

When I first started gardening, I couldn't afford anything but those light (cheapo-depo) ones, and let me tell you....The thorns poke right through!!Ouch...

Pruning Rose Bushes How to Prune

~How and When to Prune Roses~

You'll sometimes hear the old pros refer to the 'Three D's" when

they speak of pruning. They are referring to removing Dead, Damaged, or Diseased canes.

Best Method to do this:

~ Cut away any dead wood.

 ~ Remove any spindly or weak canes.

  ~Remove canes that cross.

Next open up the bush to admit more light and improve air circulation. (This keeps away disease and Mildew)

~ To open up the bush; Remove canes that grow in toward the center of the bush.

 ~ Leave 6-8 strong healthy canes.

 ~ Remove any suckers from below the bud union. (suckers are thin canes that grow from beneath the thick wood part of the cane) Always use sharp pruners! A dull pruner will rip the cane, causing injury to the plant.

 ~ Make all pruning cuts on a 45 degree angle, 1/4 in. above a dormant bud eye.

Pruning takes practice, and this may seem quite confusing if you are new to growing roses, but trust me......if you follow this advice, and know the type of bush you are pruning, your climate, and when the bush flowers, you will become a seasoned gardener in no time.

If you have an acquired bush that you didn't plant, and know nothing about it;

If it looks really overgrown, give it a trim in early spring, (following the typical pruning advice on how and where to make the cuts), then give the bush a season to see how good and when it blooms. If it produces no flowers at all, it may have been a once bloomer, and you may have cut off all the buds for that year! (See what happens the following year)

If it produces lots of new growth and flowers; Stick with the Annual pruning guide!

Seasonal Pruning

Pruning Rose Bushes during the growing season,(Deadheading) is necessary to keep the flowers coming.

If you leave the spent flowers, they will swell into seed pods called hips. If they stay on the canes, the flowers stop.

By caring for rose bushes accurately, and pruning regularly you can increase the number of blooms the bush will produce.

When the flower is gone by: Make a diagonal cut on the stem about a 1/4 inch above the upper leaf of a pair of five-leaflet leaves.

how to prune roses diagraham

By cutting here, you will stimulate the growth of a new stem from the bud eye at the base of the upper leaf. Usually a flowering stem will also grow from the base of the lower leaf.

 If you rose blooms in clusters:

One or two blooms will fade before the others. Snip these out.

When the entire cluster has faded, snip out the entire cluster making sure to make the cut above the first leaf with five leaflets. Also make sure that it faces outward, away from the center of the bush.








how to prune roses diagraham two

As the flowers fade, keep cutting them in this manner throughout the season.

Do you see how you can turn one flowering stem into two? See the new stem that grew just below the cut? See the Bloom on it?

Don't be afraid to cut your roses!

Just always cut 1/4 inch above the pair of five-leaflet leaves. If you cut above a three leaflet one, the new growth will be small and weak.

In late fall, stop cutting off spent blooms. The hips will form, signaling to the plant to stop flower production and go into dormancy.

After pruning rose bushes, collect all pruning debris and remove it to prevent the spread of disease and insect pests. Do not add to the

compost pile .

When I first started growing roses,I would be afraid to cut off too much, but then one spring, I had a bush that draped over a low fence that was really out of control, so I thought, I need to give this bush a REALLY good trim, even if I have to sacrifice flowers. I was Shocked when that bush bloomed more than it ever had!

Tip for Northern Gardeners;

Watch for the Forsythia bushes to bloom, that's when you should prune your roses!

Find out about Pruning Rose Bushes that are Climbers

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Related Pruning pages

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Pruning Knockout Roses

pruning climbing roses

Pruning Climbing Roses

when to prune roses

Learn When to Prune Roses

forsythia bush

Sent in as a reminder by a reader:by Dave
(Pacific North West)

This may be a little different but I grow show roses and (yes!) win prizes for them. I couldn't do this without my great pruning indicator, a bush every rose grower should have in their garden...the yellow Forsythia bush.

So, in order to have a lot of favorite roses I need to know exactly when to do my spring pruning, particularly of my T-roses, and as every garden has a micro climate, when my Forsythia starts to bloom, then I go to work and do all my pruning.

I could not have favorite roses without this reliable garden indicator...you might consider planting one as well!

Learn more about the Forsythia Bush Here.