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How to prune roses and when to do it

Knowing how to prune roses is not as easy as you might think. This task is difficult for even the most experienced gardener to accomplish. Determining the right amount of pruning can be tricky: Too much pruning can cause some damage, but too little can make the plant look patchy and unattractive.

Pruning roses is as important as: pruning hydrangeas† Done right, plants will grow stronger, healthier, with fresh shoots. It won’t take long and you’ll see the effects of your work pretty quickly, so it’s worth a shot. Do you need some guidance? Here we explain exactly how to prune roses for the best results.

You first have to look at what kind of roses you have. Don’t worry if you’re not sure, we’ve covered the basics for all types of roses.

If you like houseplants, check out our succulent care guide.

How to Prune Roses – The Basics

what do you need?

bypass the pruning machine

Gardening Protective Gloves

A sort of. forever Use bypass scissors Instead of anvil scissors, for a clean cut that won’t damage the stem.you also want Wear effective gardening gloves As well as long sleeves so you are completely safe from any stab wounds. If you don’t have these, Fiskars Steel Pruners yes OZERO Leather Work Gloves Both are good options from Amazon.

two. No matter how much you decide to trim, All cuts should be made at a 45 degree angle, 5mm above the knoband stay away from him.

Rose stems trimmed with bypass pruning

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

3. If you’re pruning in the spring, Start removing the remaining leavesSo you can better see what you’re doing.

Four. If your roses are relatively new (less than a year old), Only light trimming required, anyway, since it’s still in the early stages of growth and needs to take root. Overall, this represents only about a one-third reduction in overall size.

5. If you have an old plant, you can Prune more to encourage more growthOr just order the form.

6. If you want more external growth, Prune to outward-facing branches† You can also trim some stems inward if you want to encourage higher heights.

7. you should too Cut off any tangled stems Compete for space or risk mutual harm. You can seal the fresh cut if you want, but it’s not necessary as the rose will take care of itself.

Person collecting cut stems while pruning rose stems

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

8. you should too Remove any dead or thin stems Those that are unlikely to bloom are restored to living wood and appear green on the outside. get rid of sick branches You can also detect it by pruning back to a healthy branch.

9. you can also Removes overall wood overgrowthHowever, be aware of how thin this makes your plants look.

10. Cut to desired shapeHowever, if you want more flowers on the bottom, cut the top into a dome shape instead of flat.

Elf Remember, if you prune your roses again, They don’t bloom again until the following year, Because all the energy is spent on regeneration of the stem.

Don’t be shy about pruning your roses, most will repair themselves and grow back quickly. Ultimately, it will be better for the plant if you prune it instead of leaving it alone.

How to Prune Roses – Knock Out Roses

A rosebud knocks out pink

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Dormant roses should be pruned once they reach a height of 3 to 4 feet, which you can trim to about a third of their full height. Remember that new growth may appear 12 inches (30 cm) below your cut. Killing roses does not require dead heads, but it will encourage new blooms. Otherwise, follow the general instructions above by first removing any old or dead stems and cutting them into the desired shape.

How to Prune Roses – Climbing Roses

White rose bush climbing on brick wall

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If necessary, slash climbing roses down to the base, as long as you leave 3-5 walking sticks 5 feet or longer. If your climbing roses only have thick stems, don’t prune too much. Cut it down to a third or a half at most, or it may not grow back. As a general rule of thumb, when pruning climbing roses, you should not prune the supporting frame and work on the side branches unless the frame is growing in a bad direction that it cannot support.

When should roses be pruned?

Late winter or early spring is the best time to prune most rose varieties once the last frost has fallen. If you have a rose that blooms once a year, wait until the bloom is over before pruning, possibly in early summer. Prune climbing roses after flowering in summer. You want to make it a habit to prune your roses once a year for optimal growth.

Any heavy pruning after that will only reduce the number of flowers you will get in the future. We do not recommend pruning in the fall, as this can make your roses more sensitive to frost.


For more outdoor tips, check out our guide to 5 things to get your garden ready for spring, what to plant in March, how to care for orchids, and how to prune hydrangeas.


Content

How to prune roses and when to do it

Knowing how to prune roses isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Even the most experienced of gardeners struggle at this task. It’s tricky to fathom the right amount to prune away — too much and you could do some damage, but too little and the plant can look messy and lose its appeal. 
Pruning roses is as important as pruning hydrangeas; do it right and the plant will grow back stronger and healthier with fresh buds. It doesn’t take long, and you will soon see the effects of your work, so it’s worth doing. Want some guidance? Here, we breakdown exactly how to prune roses so you can get the best results.      
First you will need to check what type of roses you have. If you’re not sure, don’t worry, as we cover the basics below which will work for all rose types.  
If indoor plants are more your thing, check out our guide on how to care for succulents. 
How to prune roses — The fundamentals 
What you will need
Bypass pruning shears
Protective gardening gloves
1. Always use bypass shears rather than anvil-style shears for a clean cut that won’t damage the stem. You also want to wear some effective gardening gloves as well as long sleeves so you’re fully protected from any thorns. If you don’t have these,  the Fiskars Steel Pruning Shears and OZERO Leather Work Gloves are both good options from Amazon. 
2. However far you choose to prune back, all cuts should be made at a 45 degree angle, 5mm above a bud, and should slope downwards away from it.  

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
3. If you’re pruning in the spring, start by removing any remaining leaves, so you can better see what you’re doing. 
4. If your roses are relatively new (less than a year old), only light pruning should be required, if at all, as it’s still in early growth and needs to establish its roots. Generally speaking, this means only cutting back by about a third of its overall size.
5. If you have an older plant, you can prune back further to encourage more growth, or just to tidy up the shape. 
6. If you want more outward growth, cut back to outward-facing buds. You can also prune some stems to face inwards if you want to encourage more height.
7. You should also cut back any intertwining stems which are competing for space or risk damaging one another. You can seal fresh cuts if you choose, but it’s not necessary as roses will take care of themselves. 

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
8. You should also remove any dead or thin stems which are unlikely to produce flowers — cut back to the live wood, which looks green on the outside. Get rid of any diseased branches you spot as well by cutting back to the healthy branch again.    
9. You can also remove the general woody overgrowth, although keep an eye on how thin this makes your plant look.
10. Cut to the shape you want, however if you want more flowers at the bottom, cut the top into a dome, rather than flat.  
11. Bear in mind that if you prune your roses right back, they may not flower again until the following year, as all of the energy goes into regrowing the stems instead. 
Don’t be shy when pruning your roses — most will repair themselves and grow back quickly. It’s ultimately better for the plant that you prune it rather than leave it alone. 
How to prune roses — Knock Out roses 

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
Knock Out roses should be pruned while dormant once they reach a height of 3-4 feet, and you can prune them back by about a third of their overall height. Bear in mind that the regrowth can happen from up to 12 inches below any cuts you make. Deadheading isn’t necessary with Knock Out roses, but it does encourage new flowers. Otherwise, follow the general directions above, getting rid of any old or dead stems first and cutting back to your desired shape.  
How to prune roses — Climbing roses 

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
Climbing roses can be drastically reduced when needed all the way to the base — so long as you leave between 3-5 canes which are 5 feet or taller. If your Climbing rose only has one thick stem, don’t prune it back too hard. Cut it back by between a third or a half at most, otherwise it might not grow back. As a general rule when pruning Climbing roses, you should leave the supported framework unpruned and work on the side shoots instead, unless the framework is growing in an unwanted direction which can’t be supported.  
When should you prune roses? 
Late winter or early spring is the best time to prune most rose types, once the final frost has fallen. If you have a rose type which blooms once a year, wait until after the bloom has finished before pruning — this will likely be in the early summer. For Rambling roses, prune in the summer after flowering. You want to get into the habit of pruning your roses once a year for best growth.
Any heavy pruning after this will just reduce the number of flowers you will get in the future. We wouldn’t recommend pruning back in the fall as your roses will be more susceptible to the frost as a consequence. 
For more outdoor tips, check out our guide on 5 things to get you get your garden ready for Spring, what to plant in March, how to care for an orchid and how to prune hydrangeas.

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