How to prune roses
There are over 100 species and thousands of cultivars of roses, but one thing they all have in common is the need for a bit of light pruning now and again. Simple pruning helps to promote vigorous growth and ensures plenty of colourful flowers. Pruning roses can be moderately difficult, especially if you’re dealing with an unknown species or particular cultivar, but these general tips will help you improve the lifespan and health of any roses in your garden. We’ve included a few more specific tips relating to popular species below too.
General tips for pruning roses
- Late winter is usually the best time for pruning (February or March)
- It’s worth investing in a couple of essential tools for the job. You’ll need a pair of bypass pruners (with a curved upper blade) which can be used on rose canes no thicker than 10cm with the curved blade on the underside of the cane; loppers (long bladed cutting tools) are good for thick, heavy canes; a pruning saw offers a smooth, clean cut for heavy branches or canes and gloves are an absolute must to protect your fingers from the thorns!
- Cuts should be less than 5mm above a bud and should slope away from it. This will stop water collecting on the bud. Aim for well-spaced stems that allow free air flow for optimum results.
- Keeping your secateurs sharp is important for keeping your cuts clean and be sure to use loppers or a pruning saw on those bigger stems.
- Removing flowers’ heads, or “dead heading” when they have faded stimulates repeat flowering. Remove the flower or complete truss from cluster flowered types down to a strong bud. On established Roses, cut out poorly flowering old wood and saw away old stubs that have failed to produce new shoots.
- Most rose plants are ‘budded’ on a briar stock. Suckers are lighter green growths, with only a few thorns thrown up from the briar stock, rather than the variety which has been budded (grafted) on it. Suckers shouldn’t be a problem but if you do find one, trace the offender back to the root and pull it off. If you cut it back it may have the same effect as pruning – renewed vigour.
- Prune dieback to healthy white pith (the centre of the stem).
- Dead and diseased, spindly and crossing stems should all be removed in the pruning process.
- With the exception of Climbing Roses and Shrub Roses, prune all newly planted Roses hard to encourage vigorous shoots.
In February/March before new growth appears, cut out dead, damaged, weak and crossing stems. Prune the branches left to approximately 1/3 of the original size.
No pruning is necessary, apart from the removal of any damaged or weak steams. If required, they can be trimmed to shape in February/March.
No pruning is necessary, apart from the removal of any damaged or weak steams. If required, they can be trimmed to shape in February/March using shears or a hedge trimmer.
Remove any old or very weak growth and trim to shape. Train existing stems horizontally into the framework as these will produce more lateral shoots which go onto produce flower.
Prune immediately after flowering. Remove weak, old and dead wood.
Remember! – whatever kind of Roses you prune, be sure to feed them with a general purpose or Rose fertiliser in spring and mulch with garden compost or manure.