ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Prune Roses

Updated on March 18, 2017
How to Prune Roses
How to Prune Roses | Source

Learning How to Prune Roses the Proper Way

How do you prune roses? That's an excellent question, and a very important one if you are not sure. Knowing how and when to prune roses can mean the difference between having healthy, lush roses, and a blooming disaster!

Some gardeners and rose beginners believe that pruning roses is a simple as cutting the ends off. They couldn't be more wrong. Yes, pruning roses is simple, however, there are a few things you should know about pruning roses bushes the correct way if you want to produce large, beautiful roses bushes.

We will go over how to prune roses, when to prune them, and how to cut them the proper way to avoid damage and diseases.

Image Source: Stephanie Manning- Young Angel Face Floribunda

When to Prune Roses

Timing is Everything

The most important step to pruning roses is to know when to prune roses. Prune your roses to early and you risk seriously damaging the plant. Pruning them to late rarely causes damage unless you are in zone with sub-zero temperatures. Pruning roses to late will also cause it to break dormancy or 'wake up' later in the spring and delay blooming.

Deciding on when to prune roses depends on the region your are in. The most important factor is when your roses bushes go dormant. You want to make sure your roses are completely dormant before making any cuts. Since pruning creates tender new growth, pruning them before they go dormant will cause them to put on new growth, usually pretty rapidly, which will then be injured by hard freezes, snow and frosts. Too much damage can seriously injure if not kill your rose bushes.

Pruning roses in the winter, after they have gone fully dormant, is completely acceptable. Waiting to late in the Spring will cause you to get a late start on new growth and delay blooms. Wait until the temperatures begin to warm and freezing temperatures are no longer a threat. Prune immediately at the first signs of any new growth such as leaves, red tips or new stems starting to bud from the canes.

Fiskars Pruning Shears

Tools You Will Need for Cutting Roses

Supplies Needed for Cutting Rose Bushes

When pruning roses there are 3 things you will need; Gloves, loppers and pruning shears. Make sure your tools are clean and free of any diseases that may be transferred from other roses. If you are pruning a rose with black spot then you will want to wash them before moving on to the next rose or you will spread it quickly.

Loppers are used to cut main canes. Make sure they are sharp so that they actually cut the branch instead of mashing it. Mashing it will cause nasty cuts that leave the plant damaged and susceptible to disease.

Pruning shears are used to cut the smaller stems and shape. These usually aren't needed in Spring pruning since the main canes being cut will take the smaller stems as well. Make sure these are clean and sharp as well.

Gloves seem obvious or not so obvious if you don't have extremely thorny roses. However, reaching up into a rose bush cutting of canes with out gloves will leave you looking like you have been pruned.

Joseph's Coat

Stargazer Perennials Joseph's Coat Rose Plant Apricot Pink Orange Climbing Rose Potted
Stargazer Perennials Joseph's Coat Rose Plant Apricot Pink Orange Climbing Rose Potted

Joseph's Coat is one of my favorite rose bushes. It is also one that gets the most compliments in my garden. Probably for because it is a single bush that has multiple colors. Starting out as a yellow-orange then slowly changing to bright pink and almost red. No two blooms are the same color at same time. I love it!


Pruning Roses Step #1

Remove Dead, Damaged and Diseased Canes

The first step in pruning roses bushes is to remove all dead, damaged or diseased canes (long, thick, main stems). Look for canes that are weak, have damage, yellowing, browning or spots. These canes need to be cut and removed immediately to avoid further damage to the rest of the plant.

*** Do note that older rose bushes will have flaky, bark like texture on older canes. These canes are just old but healthy. If you are not sure you can scratch a little away. If you see green then it's fine and can be left. ***


Getting rid of diseased, dead or damaged canes can be hard to swallow since it can consist of cutting of a nice large stem just because there are a few spots at the bottom. However, if you don't eventually the disease will be all over the plant. It's best to take the stem now then to have to take the whole plant later.


Cut away an dead limbs that have not greened back up. This is another reason you should always wait until Spring. The new growth and greenness will allow you see what is healthy and what is not, which is almost impossible to do during Winter months. Removed any limbs, canes, and stems that aren't green and healthy....again, remember older growth that is a few years old may appear to have a hard bark on them. It's usually pretty obvious when you see it that it is still healthy though.


Canes damaged from elements such as storms, hail and high winds should be removed. Cut these canes back in the Spring while pruning but also cut them back during the rest of the year as they happen to prevent damage and disease to the rest of the plant. If it's during the growing season cut them back below the damage to the next leaf node. If the break is serious and tears the bark further down the branch then be sure to cut past that part as well. Only leave healthy, green wood.

Before and After Pruning a Rose

Before and After Pruning a Rose
Before and After Pruning a Rose

Prune Roses to Promote New Growth

How to Prune Rose Bushes Step #2

Once you have pruned all the dead, diseased and damaged rose canes, the next step is to prune to promote new growth and a thicker bush.

Using loppers on thick canes and pruning shears on thin stems,cut back all canes about 1/3 of their height leaving 2/3 of the healthy canes. Use pruning shears to remove any dead tips or stems that didn't survive the winter frosts.

Remove any suckers from the base...suckers are the stems that grow from the bottom near the soil. Suckers tend to take lots of energy that could be sent to blooms and healthy foliage on the main canes. They also have a tendency to be from the root stock below the union bud which means they won't even be the rose bush you are growing but that of which came from the roots of an old rose bush that was used to insure a healthy root system.

This type of pruning is usually referred to as light to moderate pruning and is suitable for growing areas that do not see severe Winters. Areas that receive harsh winters and heavy snow may need to do heavy pruning, also called 'dead heading' in order to promote healthy growth and insure that all damaged or weakened canes are removed.

Dead heading consists of cutting all the canes back to 4-8 inches above the soil or mulch level. If you are in a growing area that receives harsh Winters or heavy snow fall be sure to mulch your roses bushes with 3-6 inches of mulch each year to insure the roots survive the Winter.

Guide on How to Cut Roses

Guide on How to Cut Roses
Guide on How to Cut Roses

Rose Bushes on Amazon

Amazon is a great place to find rose bushes. Especially rare rose bushes. Amazon has hundreds of nurseries from all over the world that supply roses of any color, type or class that you can think of. If there is a hard to find rose you are wanting or if you are looking for a great deal check out Amazon!

Trimming Roses During the Growing Season

Maintaining Roses Throughout The Year Will Keep Them Beautiful

Aside from Spring pruning, there are times when you will need to cut your roses throughout the growing season. Trimming your roses lightly will help maintain beautiful, lush bushes, encourage new growth, prevent damage and diseases, and promote twice as many blooms. By trimming back the canes, you direct the energy to other parts of the plant that will then send off new stems, leaves and buds. Trimming not only helps produce better quality plants but it also reduces the chance of your rose getting injured or diseased.

Reasons for Trimming Roses:

~ Remove damaged wood; storms, hail, high winds, etc.

~ Remove diseased wood or leaves

~ Remove dead wood

~ Remove branches that cross each other and may rub causing damage

~ Shape the plant

~ Promote good air flow

~ Remove suckers

~ Remove spent blooms

~ Promote new growth

~ Produce more blooms

~ Promote lush bushes

~ Prevent your roses from getting too leggy

How to Cut Roses Properly

How to Cut Roses Properly
How to Cut Roses Properly

Rose Bushes on eBay!

eBay also offers rose bushes of all types. These are grown by both nurseries and everyday gardeners just like you! eBay is also a great place to find rare and antique roses.

How to Prune Climbing Roses

Pruning climbing roses

Climbing roses typically bloom on new, green growth. To encourage new growth follow steps 1 & 2 from above. Next, cut back old canes that are thick and non-productive, even if they are healthy. Older canes rarely bloom and take up space, nutrients and energy that could be sent to new growth and produce more blooms.

Climbing roses also need to be pruned to insure they are kept tidy. Since some climbing roses grow more rapidly, they need to be pruned to keep shape and insure that they are not getting too big for their supports (trellis, arbor, etc. ). Remove crossing canes keeping the youngest ones to insure blooming.

For more information on climbing roses Fine Gardening has some great information and pictorials for pruning climbing roses.

A Great Book About Growing Roses for Beginners

Prune Spent Blooms to Increase New Blooms

Again, I can not stress this part enough- and feel that it is worth mentioning again---

Trimming roses often to remove old blooms is one of the best thing you can do for your roses. If you have ever walked by a rose bush and noticed several spent blooms, chances are you didn't see many fresh blooms. This is because buds only form on the end of stems or at the 'tip'. After the blooms fade, pinch or trim them back.

Trimming roses back after blooms die off will allow the rose bush to send much needed energy and nutrients to the rest of the plant which will then produce new stems. Those stems will then produce buds. The more stems you have the more blooms you will have. Once the tip blooms it rarely ever blooms again. Cut it back to the first set of leaves and watch it grow!

Sharing is Caring! :)

Be sure to Pin this image and share it with your Pinterest friends! :) Simply hover over the image for Pin button or via the share buttons on the ride side of this screen!
Be sure to Pin this image and share it with your Pinterest friends! :) Simply hover over the image for Pin button or via the share buttons on the ride side of this screen! | Source

What Are Your Thoughts on Pruning Roses?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)