How to prune roses in winter
Prune in winter when your plant is dormant and be prepared to be brutal. Your bush will reward you with beaut blooms in summer.
- Cut dead stems back to their base and damaged or diseased stems back to healthy tissue, where the centre is white.
- Cut stems that look like they’ll grow into the centre of the bush – it’s important air flow through the plant is maintained.
- Remove suckers that emerge below the graft scar. Always cut at a 45° angle with the cut facing downwards and outwards just above a bud or leaf node.
How to prune roses in summer
Pruning roses in summer may seem counterintuitive, but it will actually give you a beautiful flush of blooms throughout Autumn. Summer rose pruning should be lightly and with lots of gentleness compared to the vigorous cutback done in winter. You should aim to cut off around one third of your rose bush.
- Remove any dead wood or branches and cut back any stems that are less than pencil thickness. This cut back should also be done for overcrowded stems.
- It is ideal to prune outward facing buds.
- Remove any diseased foliage, including any fallen leaves around the bottom of the bush. This will reduce the likelihood of fungal diseases forming.
- Fuel new growth with a rose-specific fertiliser and then follow up with a deep soaking. Renew mulch if necessary.
Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora, and Floribunda Roses
Cut back your hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses to about 18 inches tall in early spring, just before they start to grow. One guide to help you know when to prune is to watch for forsythia to bloom. In the coldest climates, prune these roses back to live growth. It may be as low as 8 inches, depending on how severe the winter was.
Because many of these types of roses are grafted, watch for any shoots that seem to be coming from the roots and not the rose stem. These are usually unwanted suckers from the root system and should be removed at ground level.
Though it may seem like butchering, pruning this way will give you plants that produce lots of lush blooms on sturdy stems.
Climbing roses can be a little trickier to figure out. The best time for pruning depends on what kind of climbing rose you have. Prune those that bloom only once a year right after their blooms fade. Reblooming climbers, on the other hand, should be pruned in early spring.
Pruning ramblers and climbers help train the canes along a structure, or when they are growing the wrong way.
Shrub roses may not need pruning at all, but it depends on what type you have. Many modern shrub roses require no pruning except to remove dead or damaged growth. If your shrub roses bloom once a year, lightly prune them back after their flowers fade. Prune back reblooming shrub roses in early spring.
Tips for Pruning Roses of All Types
- Always remove dead, diseased, or damaged growth.
- When cutting out diseased growth, dip the blades of your pruners in rubbing alcohol between each cut to help prevent spreading disease.
- Avoid leaving dead, ugly stubs on stems by making your cuts about 1/4 inch above a leaf bud.
- Prevent a tangled mess of rose shoots by making your cut to a bud that's pointing away from the centre of the plant. (Buds facing the centre will grow shoots that grow into the middle of the rose.)
- Cut out any thin, weak growth. On most roses (except miniatures), the general rule is to cut back any stem thinner than a pencil's thickness.
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