When to Prune Roses

It’s critical to time the pruning of roses right. It’s best to do so just before the new buds open and straight after the final hard frost of the early springtime has been and gone wherever you are.

This is not to say that all roses want to be pruned after dormancy. Some, though certainly not most, prefer to be pruned prior to the end of spring dormancy.


When should I prune my roses
How roses should be pruned in spring



How to Prune Roses in Spring

You’ll want to prune your rose bushes in certain areas – taking certain parts of the plant out. That’s inclusive of any dead and the remains of any flowering stalks. Also take out any spindly growth as well as shoots that are leggy – have grown beyond the shape of the plant.

For most rose species, you’ll want the shape to be like a ‘V’ or in a vase-type shape. 


From the Ground Up

Prune off any dead wood from the base. This opens up the center of the bush. In turn, that allows more air to circulate and more light to enter. 

Remove All Dead, Diseased, and Broken Wood

Any dead wood, follow it down the branch until you see healthy, green wood. At a 45-degree angle, use your secateurs to make a nice, clean cut. If the inner flesh is not white in color, cut even lower until you reach the inner white. 


Remove Twiggy Canes

Any canes that are particularly thin – like, pencil thin, these can be removed. 


Above the Graft Remove Suckers

If you’re not sure what a sucker is, it’s new growth that tends to grow vertically from the main rose stem. 

Suckers, though, can grow from under the surface of the soil from the area the rose graft has been made. 

Suckers are pointless to our needs. They will never flower. Well, either that or they are inferior flowers to the flowers we get from the grafted branches. Hit all suckers hard back using your secateurs. Don’t leave any remaining as they take the goodness from the rose bush. 


Prune New Rose Growth

The new growth of your rose plant can be pruned so that you have the desired shape. Again, make cuts using your secateurs at 45-degree angles. Make cuts around one quarter of an inch (0.6 cm) above a bud. This bud should be one that faces towards the outside of the bush. These buds grow out rather than in toward the center of the rose bush. 


Use a ‘Glue’ to Seal the Cuts

This is something I never did – ever. And I have pruned thousands of roses. However, if you have a problem with cane borers, any larger-sized cuts can be sealed with a white-colored glue. This stops the cane borers in their tracks and does no harm at all to the rose bush. 


Tips for Rose Pruning

Dead branches in rose bushes are generally easy to see – they’re typically black or a reddish-black in color. Some dead branches can be a dotted or a yellow coloration with little green. 

If you’re unsure about the rose bushes that you have and you’re not sure when to prune: 

  • If the bush blooms on new growth, don’t be too quick to prune. Wait until the following year at the point that the bush is just going to break its dormant period. That’s the time to prune. 
  • If your rose bushes bloom early on the previous year’s branches, wait until after flowering has finished before pruning. 


There are an array of rose varieties that only bloom a single time in a year. These bushes, including Damask, centifolia, alba, gallica, flower on the old wood. 

Such varieties require very little pruning. All you need to do is to remove the thin, wispy wood and the dead wood. You can, once flowering is done, shape the plant. 

Throughout the blooming season, deadhead any spent rose blooms and be sure to continually remove any suckers. 

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

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