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How & When to Prune Roses

Roses do require a lot of maintenance, yet they remain one of the most popular garden plants and this is because, even with all the hard work, they reward us with wonderful blooms throughout the Summer, into Autumn and even Winter depending of the frost.

How to Prune Roses

We have already covered how to care for roses, but in this article we discuss how to prune and when to prune roses. If you want to learn more about planting, feeding or spraying roses, see our how to care for roses section.

Roses are divided into 4 types and each should be pruned differently.

Shrub Roses

  • Larger roses, generally repeat bloomers with thornier stems
  • When: Late Winter / Early Spring
  • Deadhead: All Summer
  • How: Cut back plants by 1/3, keeping a good amount of the old wood. Shrub roses flower on their old wood, so it is important not to cut back too hard. Cut back long lateral stems to about 3 buds from main stem
  • Remove any dying / diseased and cross over branches. Also remove any branches that can grow inward or are rubbing off each other

Bush Roses (Hybird Tea Rose)

  • Open habit, single bloom on end of each stem. Repeat bloomers with fragrant flower & are easy to maintain

Bush Roses (Floribunda)

  • Hardier than Tea Rose. Floribunda are a relatively new Hybrid, first created in the 1940's. Floribundas have several flowers clustered on the end of each stem. Also repeat bloomers
  • When: Late Winter / Early Spring
  • Deadhead: All Summer
  • How: Cut out all old & diseased stems. Then cut back main stems and side shoots to about 4 - 6 inches above last season's growth. By doing this every year the rose will remain short but will develop long flowering stems each season
  • Older plants can be pruned down to approx. 1ft off the ground. Reduce number of flowering stems to between 5 & 7

Climbing Roses

  • Rambling or climbing roses need to be trained to a support frame. Climbing roses are repeat bloomers while rambling roses only flower once each year
  • When: Late Autumn / Early Winter
  • Deadhead: Only climbing roses
  • How: Once flowers have faded, you can prune climbing roses. These roses will require training over years. Allow rose to develop long stems for 3 or so years, then train these stems along wire or timber supports. Remove any stems that conflict with the plant's shape
  • General pruning involves removing any dying, dead & diseased stems and also reducing the length of all shoots by 1/3

Miniature & Patio Roses

  • As the name suggests, these roses are smaller than most other roses and therefore suited to containers
  • When: Late Winter / Early Spring
  • Deadhead: Yes
  • How: Once the plants start to become too dense, it is time to start pruning. Dense canopies of rose stems lead to less productive flowering. Don't prune young patio roses. Once they are matured, you can cut them back hard. Remove dense growth by thinning out stems and then reduce the length of all remaining stems in half