When to Prune Roses

A common question with garden care and maintenance is when to prune roses.  Most people are aware that some level of snipping is needed, but just as important as the cutting is the timing. 

Chicago Peace Rose

One issue with timing is that it is very dependent on the gardening zone you live in.  Certainly the dates to trim in Alberta, Canada are different than Anaheim, California.  Not only that, but it can also depend greatly on the type.  For example, Portland and Seattle are typically February, while here in Chicago we would still be digging out of snow storms!

Generally speaking though, the best time to do it is in the spring.  Of course, this is going to vary from place to place.  Gardeners generally agree that spring means that the last frost is over.  If you have winterized some of your plants, if you are able to start exposing them again, it’s probably time for a trim on your other roses as well.  In some areas, this can be hard to predict.  Chicago, where I garden, can be notorious for late April snows!  A more specific way to check is to look at the buds.  Cut back when they seem to be expanding.  Another guideline says that rose pruning should happen when the forsythia starts flowering.  Not a bad idea to plant a couple around your yard.

Some people are fortunate enough to garden in warmer zones, where there really isn’t a winter, or at least any real freezes.  Here the rule is to prune toward the end of the fall season, instead of the spring. These are some rough guidelines, meant to help you for scheduling some time for pruning.  Your best bet is the check with your local nurseries or rose clubs for more exact dates.


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