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How to Trim Roses - Keep Them Fresh and Healthy

Updated on July 21, 2019
Titia profile image

I don't trim my roses too much and too short, but enough to enjoy their overwhelming beauty and fragrane all summer long.

How to trim roses and keep them fresh and healthy
How to trim roses and keep them fresh and healthy | Source

How to Enjoy Your Roses for Years to Come

Many people wrote many books on how to grow roses and how to trim them. Of course they are right, you have to trim roses to stimulate the forming of new buds. Sure, I will show you some tricks too, but I want to show you a different take on the normal trimming too. One that I practise since I've visited a rose garden some ten years ago.

Winchester Cathedral - English Shrub Rose
Winchester Cathedral - English Shrub Rose | Source
Mozart Rose in the middle
Mozart Rose in the middle | Source

Does a Rose Need to Be Pruned Each Year?

The owner of the rose garden I visited some ten years ago told me this: "I don't prune my roses each year in the way the books teach you. I cut off canes that are growing in a direction where I don't want them. Every few years I prune them a bit more thorough. I remove the old stems so new ones can take their place. I don't trim my roses real short because then you trim a lot of flowers away".

Well, he could do that, because most of his roses in the high borders were landscape roses and ramblers. They thrive rather well on not pruning or trimming.

Rose Garden
Rose Garden | Source
Rose Garden
Rose Garden | Source

My Experiece on Not Trimming Roses At All

I took what the man said about cutting off all the flowers quite litteral and I didn't trim my old type roses at all. I cut off a cane here and there and my rose garden bloomed and bloomed and bloomed. Until of course it got total out of hand and my garden turned into an impenetrable wildernis.
It took me a lot of work to get it back in some order again and since then I do trim and prune my roses the way he told me to. Each spring, but not too much and not too short. I deadhead most of the roses during the summer and that works fine for me.

The out of proportion Rambling Rose American Pillar
The out of proportion Rambling Rose American Pillar | Source

Before You Start Trimming

You could try but I don't think handling roses without proper gloves would become you. Some roses have really thick thorns and there are roses that have thousands of little thorns all over their stems.

Most of the time I like garden gloves that let me feel what I'm doing.

However, when handling roses you really need some thicker gloves where the thorns won't hurt you the moment you touch them and the stems of some roses are just filled with thorns.

Roses have canes with thorns
Roses have canes with thorns | Source

What Are the Best and Easy to Use Trimming Tools?

Trimming roses can become quite a burden when you have many roses to trim and you don't use the right tool for the right job. When I started I used the normal everyday pruning shears and loppers but I often had to squeeze very hard to cut the stem which caused muscle strain in my hands.

Pruning my roses and other bushes became a really easy and joyful job when I discovered the ratcheting pruning shear and the ratcheting lopper. Never again would I suffer from aching hand muscles after pruning the roses and bushes in our farmhouse garden. With these ratcheting tools, pruning has become very easy, because it cuts through the thicker canes in no time without having to use much strength. When you start cutting you'll notice it will only cut a small part. Then you have to open it a bit until you hear a 'click' (you can feel it too), then squeeze again, open it till 'click' and squeeze again. These shears increase the cutting power up to 300 percent.

However as it is with everything; different people have different opinions and the same goes for the shears and loppers. Just in case you need to take out a very thick and wooded rose cane, the best tool to do that is the pruning saw. It's an easy to use and not expensive very sharp little saw that can be folded like a razor blade. I use it all the time.

I can only speak from my own experience and therefore I recommend these ratcheting tools strongly. They will make your pruning time a fun time.

Rose Pruning and Trimming Tools
Rose Pruning and Trimming Tools | Source

How to Trim a Rose the Best Way

A rose is a rose is a rose they say, but that is certainly not the case as it comes to the different types of roses. Each type of rose requires a different way of trimming or pruning. For some roses it's best to trim or prune them in the late Fall, for others it's best to wait until Spring when there's no threat anymore of night frost.

  • Floribunda Rose and HybridTea Rose

    These can be virtually pruned the same way. The Floribunda rose has multiple flowers on one stem and the Tea rose has only one flower per stem. They both bloom repeatedly during the summer.

Rosa Variegata di Bologna
Rosa Variegata di Bologna | Source
  • Shrub Roses or Landscape Roses
    Shrub roses are hardy and easy to care for roses that come in a great variety of smaller and bigger rose bushes. Most of them need some space. Some are repeat bloomers, some bloom only once a year. There are single or double blooms in many different colors.

David Austen - Rose Abraham Darby
David Austen - Rose Abraham Darby | Source
  • Climbing Roses and Rambler Roses
    The main difference between these two climbing roses is that a climbing rose is a repeat bloomer and that a rambler blooms only once a year, with a few exceptions. You also can let a rambler climb into an old fruit tree, which I did with the rambler Mme. Le Gras de St. Germain.


Rambler Rose Mme. Le Gras de St. Germain growing into an old apple tree
Rambler Rose Mme. Le Gras de St. Germain growing into an old apple tree | Source
Climbing rose Guirlande d'Amour
Climbing rose Guirlande d'Amour | Source

If You Have the Space Then Give Your Roses Some Freedom

Mme. Le Gras de St. Germain - a David Austin Rose
Mme. Le Gras de St. Germain - a David Austin Rose | Source
This Rose Is Expanding Her Territory
This Rose Is Expanding Her Territory | Source

Deadheading Roses?

What Is the Best Way to Remove the Deadhead Roses?

Deadheading Roses means: you take out the dead flowers during the blooming time of the rose.

However...don't just take off the flower, because then it won't grow a new one.

Look for the first or second healthy leave below the flower which is pointing outwards and cut it off just above that leave. This will stimulate the rose to grow a new flower carrying branch.

Mind you, that will only succeed with roses that will flower all summer. There are some old roses which will flower only once a year.

Are You Familiar with Deadheading Roses?

See results
I don't trim all roses each year
I don't trim all roses each year | Source

© 2013 Titia Geertman

Do you like Roses too?

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    • profile image

      Auriel 

      6 years ago

      beautiful flowers..

    • BobZau profile image

      Bob Zau 

      6 years ago

      Nice pictures. I love the smell of roses and with all the varieties available. There mus be a type that even I can grow.

    • GardenIdeasHub LM profile image

      GardenIdeasHub LM 

      6 years ago

      I really enjoyed your lens about trimming roses in the spring and I did pick up some good tips.

    • Muebles de host profile image

      Muebles de host 

      6 years ago

      very nice lens. thank you

    • toronto-wedding profile image

      toronto-wedding 

      6 years ago

      nice information about gardening.Thanks

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 

      6 years ago

      Beautiful photos and great info. Thank you.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      It is so nice to see your roses so gloriously displayed. Your effort and hard work are beginning to pay off. I'm doing a little happy dance for you. Have a wonderful spring...it is right around the corner now.

    • Titia profile imageAUTHOR

      Titia Geertman 

      6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      @chezchazz: LOL Chazz, I'm sure you can come up with a different angle of pruning roses. So many gardeners, so many ways to prune roses. I do as little as I can. But I have to start all over, practically all roses you see in the photos are either dead or trying to survive by sending up a few inferior stems.

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 

      6 years ago from New York

      WOW! Can't believe I hadn't seen this lens before. Blessed and featured on Still Wing-ing it on Squidoo and will shortly be added to My Victorian Garden in Summer: Growing Heirloom Roses lens - no point in my writing a lens about rose pruning - you've got it covered!

    • stylishimo1 profile image

      stylishimo1 

      6 years ago

      Beautiful roses, it's sad that some of yours died, the one growing over the apple tree looked so beautiful. I hope your rose garden flourishes again soon :)

    • LeslieMirror profile image

      LeslieMirror 

      6 years ago

      Roses look extremelly gorgeous. I guess that it the most perfect present ever!

    • Pmona LM profile image

      Pmona LM 

      6 years ago

      Roses are such beautiful flowers, with such an amazing fragrance. I've enjoyed looking at your photos.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Beautiful Roses! Thanks for the information it is really helpful.

    • SandraWilson LM profile image

      SandraWilson LM 

      6 years ago

      Beautiful pictures. I'm so sorry you lost so many roses. Terrible! Thank you for the helpful lens.

    • profile image

      robbieshaws 

      6 years ago

      Thank you for an informative and beautiful lens. Worth the read.

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 

      6 years ago from US

      So lovely--it really was like strolling through the garden with you. Beautiful photos. #blessed

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 

      6 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      I swear I could smell the roses as I enjoyed this article. I appreciate all the great tips also. Now, for Spring to come so I can go trim my roses correctly once.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      My grandmother always had roses...and they always had her "working" so hard, I was afraid to try them. This last spring, Red planted some for me and from your pictures and descriptions I have a much better idea of how to trim them. Thank you!

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 

      6 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      Hi Tatia,

      I really enjoyed this very interesting and informative lens. I used to grow roses when I was in Houston and loved everything that went along with it. I keep thinking that I'll start growing them again, but so far have not gotten around to doing it.

      TonyB

    • profile image

      miaponzo 

      6 years ago

      I absolutely LOVE roses and I wish I could grow them.. maybe I'll try :)

    • Titia profile imageAUTHOR

      Titia Geertman 

      6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      @Spikey64: Hi spikey, don't trim roses you've just planted, they need their rest to settle and grow first. Just lead the branches where you want them.

    • profile image

      Spikey64 

      6 years ago

      I have just planted some climbing roses in my backyard and this lens has come in useful teaching me how to prune them.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      This lens is a great help

    • WindyWintersHubs profile image

      WindyWintersHubs 

      6 years ago from Vancouver Island, BC

      Hello. Congrats on your Purple Star! I learned a lot about trimming roses. I didn't realize there are different ways to trim the varieties of roses. Right now, we only have miniature potted roses on our patio. Sorry, you lost many of your beautiful roses. Blessed!

    • KamalaEmbroidery profile image

      KamalaEmbroidery 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for this lens. I have a rose I inherited. It blooms all winter and I was wondering how to trim it. I live in Northern California, so the winters are mild and it's on my protected patio. Still it's odd, but beautiful.

    • profile image

      ysc 

      6 years ago

      simply wow... like it, yes as I do for roses :-)

    • profile image

      slyounkin1 

      6 years ago

      great lens, thanks for the tips

    • profile image

      JoshK47 

      6 years ago

      Quite a lovely and well put together lens - very informative! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • profile image

      john9229 

      6 years ago

      Nice roses pictures here. I not good trim roses actually.

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 

      6 years ago

      Really beautiful and informative article and quite timely. I was looking for exactly this information! Thanks.

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image

      Kay 

      6 years ago

      I always trim my roses. They always come back so full and beautiful. Your photos are stunning! Blessed!

    • Titia profile imageAUTHOR

      Titia Geertman 

      6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      @Natural_Skin_Care: You don't have to be brave to plant a rose, you only have to look for the right one for the right spot.

    • profile image

      Natural_Skin_Care 

      6 years ago

      I haven't been brave enough to try growing roses, but I'm bookmarking these tips in case I ever do.

    • profile image

      kemanS 

      6 years ago

      Wow! Amazing lens and as a gardener I am very impressed and will be coming back to learn more because I can grow vegetables but know little about growing flowers. Great job.

    • graphite75 profile image

      Tom 

      6 years ago

      Nice tutorial on trimming roses.

    • Elaine Chen profile image

      Elaine Chen 

      6 years ago

      i like to see all the roses pictures here

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Amazing lens !!

    • profile image

      CatJGB 

      6 years ago

      You know, my close neighbour tells me she is a gardener by trade. However, she plants all the veggies in our shared garden in the wrong places for them, despite me 'advising' (because she should know better than me, being a gardener, right?)......BUT, she does have BEAUTIFUL roses, so she obviously is getting something right. Maybe she read this guide, hehehe!

    • Titia profile imageAUTHOR

      Titia Geertman 

      6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      @BeyondRoses: I never prune or trim the rambler roses, only if there branches get too long or grow to places I don't want them, I cut them of after blooming or I will lead them into another way. Ramblers need their space. The only way to grow a rambler in a small garden is to lead her all the way up against the wall of the house or along a fence. There's so much one can do with roses.

    • PinkCattleya profile image

      Camile 

      6 years ago from Doha Qatar

      This is definitely a great guide for trimming roses. Steps, guides, video and the tools for trimming roses, everything can be found here.

    • profile image

      wapsmad 

      6 years ago

      Very nice informative lens, you are maintaining this very well :)

      Thanks for the information....

    • profile image

      BeyondRoses 

      6 years ago

      Your photos, and stories on trimming roses are lovely. I know how you feel saddened in loosing some of your beloved roses. I get a bit of tears when I look at old photos of the roses I use to have. I loved them, but even with the few I had, it was an early morn routine of pruning, and the brown spot is a real issue in the climate of my area. I love the rambler rose, and my Mom had one like that in her garden, and I don't recall her spraying, pruning, or anything. Flowers just flourished for her. I've often thought of how roses can require so much tending, and yet I've seen ramblers that flourish when even abandoned. You've reminded me of how sweet that rose, and that time was. One of my childhood pets was laid to rest beneath the rambler rose.

    • profile image

      mrsfashionista 

      6 years ago

      Informative lens! Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • Kumar P S profile image

      Kumar P S 

      6 years ago

      Great lens ! Useful and informative. Thanks for sharing.

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 

      6 years ago

      Lovely lens. Roses don't seem to like me much. Despite that they do survive in my garden.

    • Titia profile imageAUTHOR

      Titia Geertman 

      6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      @flycatcherrr: Yes, I like the Grootendorst too. Good luck and don't prune too much at the same time.

    • Titia profile imageAUTHOR

      Titia Geertman 

      6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      @Ramkitten2000: Some roses do and some don't or will grow into real forests, depending on what kind of rose it is. Ramblers tend to grow wild ands some, like the one in the apple tree could cover a whole house if you let it go its own way.

    • Titia profile imageAUTHOR

      Titia Geertman 

      6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      @bossypants: Somehow those red ones touched my heart too, both roses are not completely dead yet, so I hope they will bloom again in due time.

    • Titia profile imageAUTHOR

      Titia Geertman 

      6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      @PromptWriter: I'm a very lazy gardener myself and at one point the roses had grown so wild, that I even couldn't get all the way to the back of the garden due to a forest of thorned branches halfway. I like to see roses being beautiful on their own too, even if it means they die because they're not fit for the heavy clay we have here. I never spray them either for bugs or anything.

    • TheCandle LM profile image

      TheCandle LM 

      6 years ago

      Beautiful. Thanks for the rose pruning tips. I'll be putting them to use this Spring. Hope your rose garden comes back to it's former glory, even if you have to plant new roses. Quite lovely.

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 

      6 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      I have terrible luck with roses. Mostly because I am a lazy gardener and want roses to be beautiful all on their own. ;)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I am sorry to see Mme. Le Gras St. Germain die. It looks so beautiful on the old apple tree. Congrats on the Imminent inclusion.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 

      6 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      Roses are beautiful plants to grow and well looked after can give many lifetimes of flowering beauty. Well done on this informative lens and a well deserved Purple Star!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 

      6 years ago

      This is lovely! We have two established arches with climbing roses, and I'm babying along a new one with Cecile Brunner roses I found on eBay. The grower makes clippings from his own plant across the country in Florida. We expect it to bloom in a few months for the first time. Roses are such a rewarding hobby.

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 

      6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      I have 4 rose types and love, love them all! I think my favorite is the Tea Rose, which is so pretty! I do trim them all after they bloom and before Winter sets in!

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 

      6 years ago

      I like reading about when it is the best time to trim roses because I have a few in my little flower and herb garden. They are so beautiful in the summer months.

    • Titia profile imageAUTHOR

      Titia Geertman 

      6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      @maryseena: No, the white climbing rose in the tree died above ground also. But it's forming new branches from the root. It will take years though before it will cover the whole tree again.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      6 years ago from USA

      It took me awhile to learn about trimming roses and when to do it. I appreciate this and the videos.

    • maryseena profile image

      maryseena 

      6 years ago

      Hope you still have the white climbing rose. I cannot think of anything more romantic than living in a house with a garden perfumed by beautiful roses, especially the climbing varieties. I have to make do with bougainvilleas instead; they have pretty colors, but sadly, no fragrance. I just made my very first lens on them.

    • profile image

      seosmm 

      6 years ago

      I always enjoy your lenses. You do such a wonderful job!

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 

      6 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      Really well-written lens with lots of good tips. Thanks so much.

    • profile image

      bossypants 

      6 years ago

      Oh! I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your roses to the unseasonable winter! The apple tree rose was a beauty -- like nothing I've ever seen. All your photographs are so lovely. The 2 photos of the red roses, rambling, I believe, are exquisite. I'm not sure why, precisely, but they touched my heart. What an enjoyable lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Beautifully presented in every possible way and now I understand that pruning roses is to stimulate growth when done correctly. Congratulations on home page honors and that pretty purple star...very well deserved!

    • Expat Mamasita profile image

      Expat Mamasita 

      6 years ago from Thailand

      I love roses, they always remind me of home in England.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Wow, a lot of great information. I used to have a whole hedge of roses along the driveway at a previous home. They were so beautiful but definitely needed some knowledgeable trimming -- which I never did. But they kept blooming nonetheless ... probably just not as much as they would have had I kept up on them.

    • profile image

      Stuwaha 

      6 years ago

      This lens has reminded me of another plant I want for my garden. Not sure what it's called specifically but it's a rose bush that produces many small blooms and covers a large area. Going to go look it up now! My grandmother had one and it was beautiful :)

      So sorry to learn about all of your devastated plants :(

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 

      6 years ago

      I love the Grootendorst in your intro photo - that's one of my favourite roses. Possibly in part because it is one of the few that does well in my cold climate and windy hilltop location. :) I need all the pruning advice I can get, so thank you for this!

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