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How To Prune Roses

Updated on March 10, 2015

How to Prune Roses

Gardening Tips for Rose Care & Pruning Roses

Proper pruning is an easy way to keep your rose bushes healthy and looking their best and get the most spectacular roses in the neighborhood. Contrary to belief, pruning a rose bush is not that difficult. With a little knowledge, pruning roses can become a chance to be creative, rather than a chore. This gardening guide will teach you all you need to know about creating a more beautiful rose garden through proper pruning techniques.

Learn how, when, and why to prune roses. The recommended seasonal tips for pruning roses will help guide you on rose care Spring through Fall.

Cutting and Pruning Roses

Pruning Roses: General Maintenance

To prune roses you will need:

Pruning shears, which are used to make the actual cuts.

Gardening gloves, to protect your hands from unwanted rose thorn pricks (ouch!)

Sharp loppers or a pruning saw (for canes thicker than 1/2"). Regular pruning shears just won't cut through these thick canes.

Once you have your gardening supplies, your ready to get started. Follow these steps.

1. Inspect the Rose Bush. If it has grown suckers from the roots, dig down and pull them off at the root.

2. Prune away all dead, broken, or diseased canes. If the canes are not white or green inside, cut lower.

3. Cut away thin, straggly canes. These will not be able to support blooms and will waste the bush's energy for creating bigger, healthy blooms.

4. If you find that some rose canes are crossed and rubbing together, cut the smaller one back. This strengthens the remaining canes.

Roses in Bloom

Roses in Bloom
Roses in Bloom

The Popular Rose Flower

The rose flower is the one constant through the years that has been titled as one of the most popular plants in the entire world! The variety of colors range from red to black and even blue! The mystifying shapes and sweet fragrance of rose flowers are simply magnificent by most gardening standards.

Today’s rose bushes have maintained many of the characteristics of the ancient rose. Modern plant breeding practices have added a great deal of disease tolerance and winter hardiness to the ancient rose (which didn't come back year after year). Hybridization has created some wonderful colors and bush sizes that seem to be able to find a ‘fit’ in most any garden or landscape. Maybe you would like to have your own rose garden? This is a wonderful idea for anyone that really appreciates lovely roses and wants to enjoy these fragrant flowers everyday!

Also know that some roses are created as shrubs that are cultivated in small sizes such as ‘shrub roses’ or grown as ‘climbing roses’ that may stretch out vine like branches 15 feet long. Rose bush offerings also include many sizes and colors of rose varieties. These roses exhibit very good tolerance to rose diseases and are known for being very winter hardy. You can also opt for the mini rose bush that can be grown as a potted plant and makes an excellent indoor flower.

How to Prune Roses

When pruning roses it is essential that you make a clean cut. Here's how:

The right bud. Choose an outward-facing bud to make the Rose grow outward and allow more light and air into its center.

Cutting above an inward facing bud causes the Rose to grow straggly shoots into the center of the bush.

Correct angle. Cut 1/4 inch above the bud at a 45 degree angle, slanted parallel with the bud. A cut too close to the bud will prevent it from growing. If you cut too far away from the bud, the remaining cane length will die.

Make a sharp, clean cut. Use sharp pruning shears to make a clean cut. If the Rose can is too thick, use sharp loppers instead. A frayed cut will leave the Rose open to attack from frost pests, and fungus. Try again, lower down the can if you make a mistake.

Rose Pruning - Why Prune Roses?

Why Pruning Roses is Essential

Why Prune Roses?

You should prune your roses (cut your roses stems) to get nice shape and better growth. Cut off old or diseased canes to help your Rose maintain an attractive, full shape. Proper pruning also promotes the growth of new shoots and buds, helping the the bush produce more blooms and keep it healthy and beautiful.

Also know that rose pruning opens up the form of the Rose bush, aiding air circulation. This is the key to preventing fungal diseases. If you choose to not prune, your roses will more than likely die.

Most Beautiful Color Rose

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How to Prune Roses

Gardening Tips for Rose Care

Rose Pruning Tips

1. When pruning roses, always use clean, sharp garden tools.

2. Prior to pruning roses, take into consideration the overall shape of the rose bush, but always start at the bottom of the plant.

3. Prune to open up the center of the rose plant. This will promote more air circulation inside the rose bush, slowing insect attack, and reducing fungal problems.

4. Prune stems of roses at a 45 degree angle, just above a growth bud that is facing away from the center of the plant.

5. When pruning roses, do not damage the plant. Cuts should be sharp and precise.

6. Remove any dead, diseased or winter damaged wood, cutting the rose back to where it's healthy. You've reached healthy wood when the center of the cane is white.

Rose Pruning Tools

Don't get pricked by thorns! Use rose pruners and get the job done pain free. For more mature rose bushes, I use the rose pruner with a foot 2 foot reach, it's much easier than stretching or using a ladder.

When To Prune Roses

When to Prune:

The best time of year to prune roses is in early Spring. If you prune Rose bushes in the Fall, new shoots may be killed by the first frost. Prune in early Spring, when canes first begin to grow.

Although, there is no substitute for careful pruning, some rose bushes are able to survive very rough treatment. Roses clipped with hedge trimmers will grow back vigorously.

Seasonal Tips for Pruning Roses

Early Spring Pruning - Prune new and established Roses when the first signs of growth appear.

Mid-Spring Thinning - Thin out straggly, overly long shoots as they grow.

Summer Deadheading - Deadhead (remove) faded blooms to encourage new growth. Prune out any storm damaged canes.

Early Fall Maintaining - Keep your Rose bush healthy and looking its best by cutting away an dead, straggly, or diseased stems.

How To Prune Roses Video

Rose Bushes

Easy to grow and very hardy, rose bushes add both color and fragrance to your garden. The rose bush in the front of my house has been there for over 20 years! I prune it every year and have it climbing up a trellis. Of all my many plants, I would say my roses get the most compliments.

Pruning: Cutting Back Roses

Pruning: Cutting Back

Once you have cut out unwanted growth from your Rose bush, prune the main canes back to just above the nearest healthy, outward growing bud or to the desired height.

Roses that should be pruned in this manner include: Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, Old-fashioned shrub Roses, Species Roses, and Grandifloras.

1. Cut all healthy canes back to maintain the proportions of the Rose. Carefully prune to establish a well-rounded and open form.

2. Cut each Rose can to just above the nearest outward-facing bud. If you make a mistake, try again on the next outward-facing bud.

© 2008 Cynthia Davis

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    • bornot2b1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens & content.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Slowly but surely building up my collection of roses. I get so excited when I see new buds forming. Thanks for this lens!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      7 years ago

      I bought a Cecile Brunner rose on eBay a few months ago and it's doing very well, poised to climb an arch. Hopefully I can use your tips next spring.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a beautiful lens!

    • Jimmy Gavin profile image

      Jimmy Gavin 

      8 years ago

      I just pinned and tweeted you, great Lens, well done and good luck

    • aviwolfson profile image

      Avi Wolfson 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great lens, thanks for sharing!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Roses are lovely. Great lens and very informative.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 

      8 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      Roses are my favorite flower. I am really taken with the chartreuse roses that are available not. They are stunning.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I adore roses :) Blessed!

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      8 years ago

      Very useful information. I am thinking of trying to revive my rose garden this year. I chose your lens for my flower quest. blessed.

    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for this page! I have some roses that have been neglected for several years, and I'm hoping with some TLC and information like this I can help bring them back to their former beauty.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      thanx for the beautiful images and useful info for rose pruning.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Beautiful images and tips for pruning roses, love rose gardens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Lovely :-D I have a couple of roses in my back garden, they are looking a bit sorry for theirselves. In need of a good pruning I think! Shall use this page as a reference, Thanks :-D

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      My Mother's Favorite Rose are the Pink Roses, they always matched her Cheeks!! :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      ~ Cupid Kisses by a Squidoo Angel ~

    • profile image


      9 years ago


    • profile image

      DallasNicole LM 

      9 years ago

      One day hopefully I will do my own gardening. I love yellow roses. Very informative. Great lens!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      9 years ago from Canada

      I am very envious of my neighbors rose bush. Thank you for a few tips. May you have an absolutely wonderful New Year. Best wishes.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Terrific lens! We have two well established rose bushes and bought a climbing white rose and another tea rose bush. I love roses!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens! It also helps to use gardening twine or yarn to tie back the plants to help you when you are pruning roses.

    • emmaklarkins profile image


      9 years ago

      Beautiful pictures! This is great info. My parents inherited some roses with their new house, and they kind of just let them have their way - I'm sure pruning would make them even better! Blessed by a Squidoo Angel!

    • GardenArbor profile image


      9 years ago

      Very nice lens - I do so love roses!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love looking at roses but know nothing about growing them. Great lens!

    • WhiteOak50 profile image


      10 years ago

      Very nice lens on prunning roses. Have you by chance ever used rose petals in cooking recipes? They taste wonderful!! "Blessed by a SquidAngel"

    • squid-janices7 profile image


      10 years ago

      Great lens with useful pruning tips. I've featured you on my Top 10 Easy To Grow Roses lens ( Thanks for sharing such useful info. 5*

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 

      11 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      I've never grown roses but with these tips maybe I'll get brave and try!

    • mariatjader profile image


      11 years ago

      As a true rose lover, I enjoyed your informative lens. Thank you!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Excellent! Welcome to the Flowers, Flowers, and more Flowers Group.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      12 years ago from USA

      Thanks for a terrific lens on pruning roses. Very timely subject for me!

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      Years ago we use to have Roses in our front garden, did not have a clue how to prune them. Wish this lens was around then it would have made things a lot easier!! Excellent reading.


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