Advice and Tips on Pruning Roses

Most beginners will be wondering when and how to prune roses – should it be Autumn or Spring time? Keep reading to get more advice on how to prune rose bushes!

With the normal bush roses – the hybrid teas and floribunda types, there are two optimum times for pruning, depending upon your garden situation.

You should be carrying out extensive pruning in early spring time (e.g. end of March for the northern hemisphere). Besides this, there is a form of autumn pruning that is also desirable by most rose growing experts.

Pruning Roses in Autumn

The autumn pruning of roses simply entails cutting back the individual stems by up to halfway. This is particularly the case if your roses are growing in a spot where they are likely to suffer from autumn and winter winds.

Leaving roses unpruned can increase the risk of the rosebush suffering root damage. It occurs as a result of being rocked back and forth. There is also a chance of damage to the bottoms of the stem where they join up with the rootstock. Slight damage to the roots can cause the rose bush to grow suckers the following year.

How to Avoid Lower Stem Damage

Damage to the lower stems can cause disease to enter, and generally weaken the bush. It does not matter how or where you make the cut. The real purpose is to prevent wind rock damage. A clean cut with sharp secateurs or loppers is the aim.

Rose Pruning Tip: Always wear good quality protective gloves when pruning roses because rose thorns are spiteful!

The best time for pruning roses is in the spring. In most cases, it means cutting back to within 15 cm of the rootstock joint. You can also cut back any weak looking stems a little further.

Diagram Showing How to Prune Rose Bushes
How to Prune Rose Bushes

Make a clean pruning cut slightly above a dormant bud. It does not need to be an outward facing bud.

Note: The most up to date advice about roses confirms this point.

In the event, buds will sprout from several places around the pruned stems, which usually allows for a good shape.

As the season progresses, remember to remove any subsequent new shoots that grow inwardly. Doing so reduces the chance of them rubbing against other growths.

Cutting back to within 15 centimetres of the rootstock means you should produce a shape akin to an upturned hand.

This will be the basic framework for your rose to grow in the classical ‘bowl’ shape. One of the benefits of this shape creates is an increased amount of air circulation. Of course, it also makes for a good healthy looking rosebush.

Spring Pruning Large Roses

With the larger growing floribunda rose varieties (e.g. Queen Elizabeth) it is better to make the spring pruning a few centimetres higher. Doing so will leave a stump around 20 cm (around 8 inches) from the ground.

What if the spring started before you started rose pruning? In this case, there may be a few new shoots further up the stems. Do not make the pruning cuts above them. No doubt, they will probably succumb to a late frost anyway!

Note: You will find even more gardening tips and roses advice in the main category section.