A Guide to Pruning Roses

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29 Jun 2022

By Michael Jacobson

Roses are a popular flower for many known to symbolize love and romance. They’re the perfect centerpiece for a bouquet, or make for a beautiful feature in your garden.

Pruning roses is an essential part of rose care to keep them looking their best. Not only does pruning keep them blooming year after year, it can also help to prevent diseases. 

If you’re new to the gardening world, you may feel nervous about pruning your roses, for fear of damaging them. Our guide covers how to prune roses, to keep them looking magnificent year after year.  With our expert advice, you will be a pruning pro in no time. 

The fundamentals of rose pruning

Pruning roses is an essential part of rose care, to improve their overall health and their appearance. Pruning will help them to produce more blooms throughout the season and reduce the chances of diseases. 

While roses produce delicate flowers, they are actually very hardy blooms. Even if you over-prune them, it’s unlikely that you’ll permanently damage them. Your roses may look stark after you’ve pruned them, but roses grow fast and will fill in quickly! With this in mind, you should be able to cut them with confidence.

Roses only need a significant amount of pruning once a year, and sometimes light pruning before winter. 

Knowing when to prune roses

Most rose pruning should be done in early spring, before new growth comes in. But if you live in a warmer climate, it may be best to prune your roses in late winter. 

It’s important to follow the growing and maintenance recommendations for the type of roses you grow. Wild roses should be pruned in early spring before the plant begins to form buds. For climbing roses and modern shrub roses, you should prune in late winter or early spring around the time new growth begins.

How to prune roses - step by step

Step 1:  Preparation

Before you start pruning your roses, you will need a few essential items to get the job done. You will need a good pair of gloves to protect your hands. Gauntlet-style gloves can provide extra protection for your forearms.

Next, you will need some bypass shears. Bypass blades overlap and make a clean cut, whereas anvil blades can crush or damage rose canes. 

Finally, make sure to wear a heavy, long-sleeved shirt when pruning. Rose thorns are sharp and can cause injuries!

Step 2: Remove all remaining leaves

Start by removing all remaining leaves so you can see the structure of your rose bush clearly. That way, you will see all the canes (stems) well, and be able to remove any pests or diseases that have been hiding over the winter.

Step 3: Start pruning 

Prune your roses by cutting a quarter to half an inch above an outward-facing bud eye (the small bump where the leaf meets the stem). New stems will grow in the direction of the bud, so you should encourage them to grow outward, not inward.

Make your cuts at a 45-degree angle, sloping away from the bud.

Step 4: Clean up

Once you’ve pruned the roses, make sure to clean up the surrounding area. All leaves and cut branches should be cleared up, to limit the chances of diseases or pests damaging your flowers.

Step 5: Feed your roses

Roses need good nutrition, so it’s important to feed them with a long-lasting fertilizer until flower buds form. Once flowering starts, change to a high-potash fertilizer such as tomato feed, to encourage more flowers to grow.

The advantages of pruning roses

A rose bush may survive without an annual pruning during its dormant period (during November and December), but it’s likely to become weaker and poorly shaped with smaller blooms. 

With this in mind, there are several advantages of pruning roses, including:

  • Plant health: By pruning your roses, you are removing any dead, diseased or dying stems which will improve the plants’ hygiene, health and appearance. This will help the plant to put its energy into healthy growth.
  • New growth: Pruning removes any dead or diseased canes and encourages new buds to push at the base so new canes can grow. 
  • Airflow: Pruning will improve airflow through the plant’s interior. This means there will be less trapped moisture in the roses, and a less suitable environment for fungus. 

Tips for pruning roses

Looking for some general tips to prune roses the right way? Here are some factors to bear in mind when pruning roses:

  • Tools: Always use clean, sharp garden tools. Cuts must be clean to avoid damage to the plant, so it’s important to keep your secateurs sharp. For larger stems, it may be best to use loppers or a pruning saw.
  • Airflow: Prune your roses to open up the center of the plant. This will improve air circulation inside the rose bush, slow insects or pests from attacking your plants and reduce fungal problems.
  • Deadheading: Make sure to remove any dead, diseased or winter-damaged wood and cut it back to where it is healthy. Once the center of the cane is white, you’ll have reached healthy wood.
  • Cuts: When pruning, make sure your cuts are no more than a quarter of an inch above a bud. Your cuts should slope downwards away from the plant, so water doesn’t collect in the bud. This applies to all cuts, including removing dead wood.
  • Cleaning: Make sure to clean the surrounding area once you’ve finished pruning. This reduces problems with diseases and pests.

Buy beautiful roses online with French Florist for same-day local delivery

Don’t fancy growing or pruning roses yourself? This shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the beauty and color of roses in your home. 

Here at French Florist, we create tailor-made rose bouquets with the utmost time and care, so you know you will receive the very best blooms every time. Our local team of flower experts designs each flower arrangement by hand, ensuring they pass strict quality control. We deliver nationwide and offer same-day local delivery, to bring a smile to a loved one, or as a gift to yourself. Order roses online today.


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