Maintaining Your Roses: Pruning

To keep your new rose bush healthy, happy, and performing its best, there are some easy maintenance tasks to complete throughout the year. Correct and regular pruning will ensure your rose bush is looking great for years to come!

Most roses will greatly benefit from a yearly pruning as it can encourage new growth, remove dead wood, and help with air circulation. When pruning, always use clean, sharp tools and if you are working with a diseased rose, be sure to sanitize your pruners in between cuts to prevent the spread of the disease.

  • Prune to open up the center of the shrub to increase air circulation.
  • Always remove all dead, dying and diseased branches.
  • Remove weak and thin branches.
  • Always make cuts above an outward facing bud or node.

Spring

Spring is when any major pruning should be done. A hard pruning can be done on newly planted roses or to rejuvenate old or neglected shrubs. This consists of cutting the stems back to 3 or 4 buds from the base, leaving only short, sturdy stems that are about 5 inches long. If your rose is well-established but does not need a hard prune, a moderate pruning will be a great alternative. This consists of cutting stems back to half of their length (weak stems can be cut back further).

Summer

The only pruning you should be doing during the summer is dead-heading to encourage more blooms, and removing any broken, dead or diseased branches that may appear.

Autumn

The goal of pruning in the fall is to prepare for the winter season, and it should wait until after the first hard frost. Pruning should not be too aggressive as you don’t want to encourage any new growth as you go into dormant season. Cut back any long, spindly branches that look like they would break during high winds or heavy snow to ensure it isn’t too top-heavy, and any branches that would rub against each other. At the same time, remove any remaining leaves and clean up any fallen branches or leaves from the ground as some diseases can overwinter on them and reinfect your rose bush next year.

Pruning preferences by species