A Guide To Pruning Rose Bushes

For anyone looking for gardening advice, especially if you are new to gardening and growing roses then this guide to pruning rose bushes will provide you with the basics of what you need to know. Roses bushes behave differently to other trees which steadily grow in size each year and produce new shoots throughout their life. Roses on the other hand grow and bears flowers for a few years and the upper portions become exhausted. What happens then is that new shoots will start to appear further down the stem and anything above the new shoot dies off. If the rose is not pruned the result will be a messy bush with a mixture of dead wood, new growth and tangled stems. Any blooms will be a poor quality,and the shoots become spindly and weak. Therefore to produce a strong healthy bush with quality blooms the bush needs to be pruned to get rid of all the dead wood. The best time to prune is after the last frost for your area. However, if you discover dead sections in your roses, regardless of the time of year, remove them as they will only weaken the rest of the bush and spread disease.
pruning rose bushes

How to make the pruning cut:

  1. Use a sharp pair of secateurs and wear a thick pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands from thorns.
  2. Make a cut that slopes inwards 1/4 inch above an outward dormant bud. This allows rain to flow off the cut and not rest on it, stagnate and kill the bush.
  3. Do not cut too far from the bud or too close to it.
  4. Make sure that all cuts are clean. Any ragged parts should be pared off to leave a smooth surface.
  5. If any cuts are more than 1/2 inch in diameter they should be painted with a fungicide to protect them from damp and frost.

Step by step guide:

  1. First cut out all dead wood. Remove all parts of stems which are obviously diseased.
  2. Completely remove all of the very thin weak and spindly stems and remove any branch which rubs against another. The aim is to produce an open-centered bush.
  3. Remove all unripe stems. One way to test whether they are ripe or unripe is to try and snap off several thorns. If the thorns tear off instead of breaking off cleanly, or if they bend then the wood is too soft and will be of no use.
  4. Now you are left with healthy ripe stems so now you can continue pruning these to encourage the bush to produce a lot of strong, healthy flowers.
  5. At this stage you are aiming to achieve a bush that is about half to two-thirds its original size. If the bush was planted 12 months ago or less then aim for light pruning. This means that once the unwanted wood and stems have been removed the remaining stems are only ‘tipped’ or trimmed. If it is a well-established bush then it can be moderately pruned. If in doubt opt for light pruning until you build up your confidence.
Pruning roses is not as difficult as many people imagine. With this handy step by step guide you will soon go from novice to expert in no time at all.