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Pruning Roses

"It can take years for you to become an expert at pruning roses, but don't be put off by any lack of skill in that area, it is always better to prune your roses badly than not at all." Well, that's what the experts would have you believe at least. They are implying you must do this or that to get the best results... but don't be fooled. Rose pruning is EASY.

Many hands make light work. Michael Manners, on Flickr

Just to prove the fact, take a look at the images below. The first two, show a very straggly Iceberg rose. The next two show the rose "pruned" to roughly 1/2 the size. Any dead wood, unwanted branches and twigs removed etc. And the final images show the same bush coming into bloom the following summer, 3 months later. As you can see it's flowering well, even though the pruning was less than expert.

Basic Rose Pruning Tips

Before you go out to start pruning your pruning your roses you will need to make sure you have all the correct equipment, this will include a thick pair of work gloves, a good sharp pair of secateurs and some gardening string or twine. Always make sure your tools are clean and sharp before you use them, to ensure clean cuts and no contamination from other plants that may carry diseases. Some people will use a small pruning saw as well but for beginners this is not a necessity.

When to Prune Roses: Roses are summer flowers and will bloom during this time, you should always prune while the plant is in its dormant stage. Autumn (fall)is the best time for pruning to be done but if you are living in a climate where you can experience frost over the winter months then it may be better to prune during the early spring months after any ice has thawed.

Bare root roses will require pruning as well. Be sure to remove any blackened roots or rot, as this will affect the plant as it grows. Its also good to do before transplanting to make things easier to handle. Deadheading will also require some pruning work as will.

Before you start pruning, stand back and take a look at the plant as a whole, it will give you an idea of the overall shape of the plant and what needs looking at and what parts need the most attention. Always start your pruning from the bottom of the plant first and work your way up to the top and out. Firstly you should remove all the dead leaves and twigs from the bush, any twig that looks weak, thin or dead should be cut off and discarded.

You should also cut any twigs or branches that are growing towards the center of the plant, you want the rose bush to breathe and open out without getting too crowded and overgrown in the middle. When looking for a good place to cut a branch that needs to be cut back, you should go for a place that is a few millimeters up from the bed. You need to get rid of the old and lengthy part of the branch but the new bud should be left near the top. The cut should made at a 45 degree angle facing away from the bud and always be done with sharp tools to avoid a raggedy and disheveled edge.

If you are living in an area that has a 'cane borer' problem then you should use a sealant on the end of the branch after cutting to ensure it does not get diseased. Once you have finished your pruning you should clean around the bottom of the plants and make sure there are no snails, slugs or dried leaves left around the bottom and take all the cut and mulch away from the area. You can then give the plants a good watering and a bit of food and wait for them to bloom beautifully in the summer.

Pruning Climbing Roses

Climbing roses require a different approach, so we have some tips on how to prune climbers.

Pruning Rose of Sharon

While this is a low-maintenance plant, there's some tips and tricks you should keep in mind so that this can be a healthy part of your garden!

Pruning Knockout Roses

Again, although its "care-free", some light prune jobs can help these bloom big and often.

If you want to make the job of pruning your roses as easy as possible, then you need good tools. Not only will it make it much easier to do the work, it's better for your roses! Blunt, poor quality tools are not only difficult to use, they crush and damage the plant.

Pages Related to Caring For Roses

Browse our pages on rose care. From basic planting techniques to advanced budding and propogating, we've got something for everyone.

Care Of Roses
Start at the beginning, and get an overview of what's involved with growing roses.
Planting Roses
Doing a poor job with your plant can leave it with weak roots. Make sure to get it done right.
Pruning Roses
Sometimes your blooms need a trim so they can have room to sprout and re-grow.
If you want continuous blooms through summer, then you need to deadhead your roses.
Cut Roses
A vase full of vibrant bloomers looks great in the dining room.  Learn how to do it yourself.
A little more advanced, but see how you can easily increase your stock of roses.
Make sure that your roses can survive the winter and come back even stronger in the spring.
Rose Diseases
Some of the common rose diseases like blackspot, and how to get them under control.
Rose Pests
Common bugs and insects to look out for on your roses, and what to do about them.
Rose Leaves
How to use the state of the leaves to check plant health on a rose bush.
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