How To Prune Roses: When to prune rose bushes, rose pruning tips and steps for pruning roses correctly, that's what this page is all about.
How to prune roses in warm, frost free climate zones, such as in California or Florida, where roses don't go dormant, prune in late fall or early winter, right before cool weather and winter rains push growth.
If you live where Forsythia bushes grow, keep an eye out for when they bloom, because those are signs for pruning roses. So when the Forsythias are blooming, it's time to prune roses.
Also, if you live where winters are so cold that you bury or cover roses, only prune after the risk of a hard
frost has passed, and you've uncovered the rose plants.
The following steps are the best way for how to prune roses. But you could be facing a different situation.
In cold winter climate zones, for example, most of the rose bush might be winter killed, so there are few decisions to make. Just cut out the dead stuff and hope that the remaining live canes will do well.
You should always cut just above an outward facing bud using a 45-degree angle downward towards the ground.
The pith in the center of the cane should be creamy in color, so if the center still looks brown (dead), keep pruning back until white.
Severe pruning is defined as a result of 3-4 stems that are about 8 inches tall. This severe pruning will result in few but large blooms.
Moderate pruning is leaving 5-12 canes at a height of about 2 feet. This will result in a larger bush, and a denser plant with lots of blooms.
Light pruning could be defined as maintenance pruning that removes dead wood and helps to shape the plant.
I usually do a light pruning after the first flower flush in summer, followed by a good rose feeding.
This I find will result in a faster and more plentiful repeat-bloom.
Climbing roses should never be pruned in the fall at all. And once-blooming roses should NEVER be pruned in the spring, only AFTER flowering in summer. Many antique old roses are once-bloomers.
Cut back floribundas and polyanthas by about a third, leaving as many canes as you can so you can get more flowers.
Pruning too late in season in the north can cause die back, so wait until spring.
And whenever you prune, be sure to clean up all the trimmings and dispose in trash rather composting because they can carry disease.
But as much as the rose bush you are planning to prune allows you, follow these easy steps for how to prune roses.
STEP 1: Remove any dead or damaged wood. This wood is not only ugly, but could draw pests and disease.
STEP 2: Cut off any suckers growing from the root. The suckers growth will not be the same as rose bush, it will be much inferior.
STEP 3: Remove any spindly or very old growth. Canes that are thinner than a pencil, aren't strong enough to support top growth. Very thick, old woody canes also aren't as vigorous, and will produce fewer blooms.
STEP 4: Prune out criss-crossed canes or canes that are rubbing, or close to it. Rubbing canes can create entry points for pests and disease.
STEP 5: Trim the remaining rose canes. Prune the remaining canes you plan to keep, by making a 45 degree cut above an outward facing bud. This will direct the growth outward for a healthy and attractive shape. How much you cut the canes depends how tall you want the rose to grow.
Cut it down to about 8 inches, and you'll have a shorter bush. Cut it to 2-3 feet tall and you'll have a larger bush.
And the type of rose bush also dictates the length of the final canes. Shorter, shrubbier rose bushes that grow to 4 feet tall, are best pruned to a foot or so.
But tall roses that grow to 8 feet, should not be pruned to less than 3 feet tall.
Roses that flowers on shoots they produce the same year are said to bloom on new wood. Some roses don't bloom on new growth. Instead they bloom on stems they grew the previous year, called old wood.
Roses that bloom on old wood should never be pruned in the spring. Pruning these roses should be done after flowering in the summer.
If you don't know what kind of rose you have, leave it alone for a year to observe it. Roses that bloom on old wood, bloom earlier than those that bloom on new wood.
This how to prune roses guide should take the mystery out of rose pruning.