Climbers, Ramblers, Tea Bush, China,
Pruning roses is an art,
and many a
plant has been ruined by some happy snipper who got carried away in the
process at the time. But it is also a necessity to make sure that your
will last a long time.
Most rose growers will delay pruning until the "eyes
can be seen at
intervals along the canes
It is from these eyes that the
roses will flower as soon as the conditions are right in due
general, the rule of thumb is to remove growth from the center of the
rose bush so that it forms an open, uncluttered
so that light
and air can easily penetrate. However, I say this with caution, because
there are so many rose varieties around, and each
different type is pruned
However, your aim is to remove canes that are past their
. These can be recognized by their "straggly"
appearance, and they usually have thin laterals.
The main point to pruning roses is to remove these weak and old canes
to encourage the rose plant to make new, strong wood
By doing this you will end up with a rose plant that will bear better
flowers as well.
A Quick Guide to Pruning Roses
Hybrid tea roses should be
pruned lightly, or fairly heavily, depending on how quickly they grow.
They should have a nice, open crown and a good shape.
Floribundas should be treated
the same way as the hybrid tea roses. Floribundas can be both tall as
well as dwarf varieties, and therefore should be pruned differently.
Climbers are treated
similarly. Remove all dead wood and canes that have borne flowers for
Ramblers should be pruned
during summer as soon as they have finished flowering. Cut out the dead
canes and tie them up during the winter months.
Standards should be pruned to
preserve the shape of the rose plants and pruned in the same
manner as shrub roses.
or evergreens such as
the Banksia rose, are the exceptions to the
general pruning rule. They are spring flowers
on wood that has matured the previous summer and should
not be pruned until flowering is
finished. If this denudes the plant too much at
the time then cut half and let the new
growth fill out the bush.
12 Points of Rose Pruning Basics
1. Before you start
pruning your roses find out what variety of rose you have.
Standards are pruned differently to China roses, which are in turn
pruned differently to climing roses, etc.
2. Now look at the rose
bush itself and look at the stems which will give you the best
shape and framework. Once you have done choose the
strongest wood to keep.
3. When you prune
your roses make sure that you have a good pruning knife
or secateurs that are sharp.
If not, you will end up tearing and damaging the canes which will leave
the area open to possible disease. If your rose bushes are old, and the
wood is thick, take a light saw to the canes.
4. All roses that have
been either bought and planted in the fall, or
even moved from one part of the garden to the other in the fall must be
hard pruned the following spring.
5. Roses that are planted before Christmas should be pruned the
following spring. But those roses that are planted after
Christmas can be pruned at the time of planting.
6. Summer pruning is important. Here cut
flowering stems back to the second
leaf bud up from the stem. Trim the bush occasionally to keep it
looking tidy. Remove suckers sprouting from the rootstock (below the
graft) by tearing or wrenching, rather than cutting, so that they are
7. For most roses, prune the
strongest varieties to 5 buds leaving canes 6 to 10 inches long.
main strong canes, the small weaker canes or laterals
cut to 3 or 4 buds on 6 inch laterals.
8. When you prune, cut above the bud at a
If you prune too close to the bud, it may fail to shoot. If you prune
too far from the bud you will leave an area that will eventually wither
and die. Cut about 2 inches above the bud.
9. Prune your roses by
cutting above the bud pointing in an outward direction.
If you don't
your stems will grow inwards, which is not what you want.
10. Crossing canes and growth
in the middle of the rose bush need to be
removed. Remove all spindly,
growth, as well as diseased or dead
11. For most rose bush varieties you can cut back to half
the height of the
12. Prune, spray, dig and mulch and you
should be rewarded with roses for 9 months of the year if you get it
Important Terms used for Pruning Roses
These are the soft, new
shoots that grow from the rose plants at the base of the plant that are
often a dark, purplish red. Some people call these "water shoots".
Without these new basal shoots your rose plants would die.
Don't cut them off. Protect them and allow them to grow.
Although these shoots look like basal shoots they are not. Suckers
from grafted roses
and if not cut out will soon overtake
that was grafted onto the rootstock.
Suckers grow below the bud union
basal roots grow from the bud union
Suckers have no thorns
on the stems.
Suckers have 7-9 leaflets
on each leaf,
while most cultivated roses have 5 leaflets
These are the main, thicker stems
grow from the base or near the base of the plant. It is from the canes
that smaller stems grow, called laterals or side shoots
It is from the laterals that your roses will bloom from the following
This is another name for buds
. This is
where the new shoots of the rose
Parts of the Rose - Note the main stem this is also known
as a "cane"
Aims and Objectives when Pruning Roses
1. Pruning to Shape
your Roses Bushes:
Pruning for shape is
important as there is nothing worse than a
scraggly speciman taking up space in your rose beds. If you have
standard roses, there is even more reason for shaping your roses to
maintain those round heads that you are after.
2. Pruning for Space in
your Rose Beds:
Pruning for space is
important where you have a number of rose bushes
growing close together. If you didn't prune for space, the more
vigorous varieties would overshadow the others, and take over the area.
3. Pruning to Improve
the Rose Blooms:
Wild flowers and roses
will try to produce as many seeds as possible to
ensurer their survival. They do this by producing a lot of small
flowers. As a rose grower, your aim is to have quality over quantity.
By pruning, your roses will produces larger, fewer flowers.
4. Pruning to Encourage
When roses are growing,
there is a need for the rose plants to create a
balance between the root growth and the leaf growth. When roses are
pruned, this then causes the rose bushes to try and re-establish the
balance by pushing out new, vigorous growth.
to Prolong the Life of your Roses:
Most roses, if allowed to
grow unpruned will produce new shoots off old wood and these will grow
unheaded, until eventually the stems become harder and harder, more
prone to disease, and over time the plant will die. By cutting out the
dead wood, and reducing the old stems, new shoots are encouraged and
the rose bushes will continue to grow for many more years.
How to Prune Roses the First Year after Planting
All roses that are to be
pruned after their first planting need to be pruned really severely.
That is, they should be cut down to about 3-4 inches from the ground.
Even climbing roses should be pruned hard so that only the strongest
canes are more than 1 foot in height.
Roses planted in the fall should be
pruned in the following spring.
Roses planted in the spring should be
pruned at the time of planting.
Pruning Times for Roses Dwarf and Standard Hybrid Perpetuals and Hybrid Tea Roses:
Should be pruned during March.
Dwarf and Standard Tea Roses and Noisettes: Should be
pruned during April.
Climbing Varieties of Hybrid Perpetuals, Hybrid Teas and
Noisettes: Should be thinned out after flowering and
pruned during March.
When you go around pruning your roses carry with you a bottle of
methylated sprits. After you prune, dab the methylated spirits on to
the ends of the cuts. This will help prevent "die back" and kill fungal
diseases. It is also handy to pop on to any scratches you may see on
the wood to prevent infection.
How to Prune Climbing Roses and Ramblers
A walkway of climbing roses
Climbing roses and
ramblers are thinned out just after they have finished flowering and
pruned in March. This
pruning stimulates new cane growth and development of new laterals on
which new flowers will form.
Rambling roses will produce basal shoots .
These will produce flowers the following year on new stems. In turn,
from the old wood, a number of other stems will grow.
When pruning climbers and ramblers you have to make the
between the laterals and the stems growing from the old
wood and decide
what you are going to cut out, as they often look the same.
If your new basal shoots look strong and vigorous with good length,
then you can cut all the old wood out that has flowered. If however,
you don't have good growth and length on your new shoots, then don't
cut out the shoots from the old wood, but leave a good number of the
strong shoots for future growth.
Old wood is useless to the roses unless it supports strong laterals
from which new flowers will come. If you only have old wood, with weak
or no laterals, then prune this wood by cutting it right out.
Where you are training ramblers to climb a trellis or a
frame , you may
find that one season's growth won't be enough to cover it.
Just cut off
some of the older shoots and shorten some of the stronger, vigorous
canes. This pruning will encourage laterals to develop so that
eventually, your ramblers will cover the area.
Just remember, only unproductive wood should be removed
from climbing roses.
Tie the last season's canes into a
horizontal position pruning away any growth
less than a pencil thickness. This will encourage
flowering all the way along the canes. In successive years
upright growths need only be shortened back to
the flowering spurs.
The time to remove all the dead wood and weak growth is during spring.
Prune sparingly now
as if you prune too much, your roses will not flower as well as you may
Many of the larger climbing roses, especially the ever blooming types,
do not produce as much growth year, after year by comparison to other
hardier climbers. As a result, any pruning here should not be done
Usually, it is only until year 3 or 4
that you will have old wood in
your climbing roses and ramblers that will need to be removed.
How to Prune Bush Roses
Bush roses prefer to be thinned out, rather than pruned.
Damask roses should never be cut back. Just
thin out when crowded and cut off the tips of you want to
lightly prune and shape.
Pruning bush roses should be done in the spring, just before growth
starts. First, remove any dead wood. If canes have died, cut about 2
inches below the dark discolored area. If there are no live buds left
on the dead wood, then remove the entire cane from the rose bush.
Next, cut out any weak growth, or any canes that are growing towards
the center of the bush. If you find 2 branches crossing over, remove
the weaker one.
Finally, shape the plant by cutting the stong canes to a uniform
height. In mild climates, bush roses can be pruned to a height of 24-30
Here is a hybrid tea bush rose showing before and after pruning.
Hopefully, you can pick out the main canes and laterals that have been
kept to encourage good growth for the following spring.
How to Prune Rugosas
These old-fashioned roses should be pruned in February .
The large rose
hips that this variety is well-known for, will appear in the fall.
Rugosas throw up a lot of suckers at the
base of the rose plants, and
so can keep the best of these of about 4 feet long. They will flower
freely from these shoots.
can either prune rugosas right back, or you can just thin them out, but
each different way of pruning will give you a different result.
If you prune back hard , you will get a
late flush of flowers the
following year. If you just thin out some
of the old wood, and just
slightly shortening the shoots, then you will end up with a good flush
of early flowers.
How to Prune Hybrid Tea Roses
These roses can be pruned in mid-March .
Hybrid tea roses are many, and
varied, and this then goes back to the earlier comments about knowing
exactly what roses you have in your garden to decide how you are going
to prune them.
In the hybrid tea roses there are climbing roses, bedding roses,
spreading roses, single roses and roses that are more related to China
roses then the others. Each of which will need to be pruned differently.
How to Prune China Roses
The old pink, taller China Roses may be pruned early in
March , the
weaker varieties can be pruned in April.
There are some varieties that do really well with a hard pruning where
you can almost cut them to the ground and they will respond
with a lovely show of flowers in the summer and fall, and there are
others that do well with very little pruning. With these you just need
to remove the dead flowers and cut out the dead wood.
Shoots may be left 5-6 feet long. The laterals on 3 year old wood
should be shortened to 3-4 eyes, and some of the old wood removed.
For those China roses that you haven't hard pruned they will start
flowering in May/June and continue to flower well into the summer.
How to Prune Wichuraiana
The wichuraiana is particularly
useful to grow on pergolas, tall pillars, and excellent as
Also good for covering walls and banks.
Rose wichuraiana is an evergreen species that grows out horizontally
right along the ground and sends out strong shoots from the base.
" Dorothy Perkins " is
a well-known rose from this variety.
It blooms towards the end of July when the plant has a number of
bunches of single or double flowers.
This variety doesn't require much pruning, but does need a lot of
thinning. Any pruning that is to be done, should be done in March .
There are some roses in this variety that have been modified by the Tea
parent, and these bloom more on old wood. Therefore, more should be
left and the laterals thinned and shortened.
How to Prune Standard Roses
If you have weeping standard roses there
isn't much pruning to be done here. Keep the long growth, and remove
any unnecessary shoots. Don't remove too many laterals as this is where
your flowers will come from.
Standard perpetuals and hybrid roses should
be pruned in April making sure that they center of the rose plants are
pruned to keep the center well open.
Cut back the shoots from the previous season, nearly to the point of
last year's pruning so that you can maintain the shape that you want
from your standard. Otherwise, if you don't you will end up with an
The weaker growing standard hybrid tea roses
will require severe pruning. With these roses you can prune hard almost
to the union.
In all cases any weak shoots should be removed.
Tasks to Do After Pruning your Roses
Because roses carry a number of diseases on their leaves,
it is better not to place these cuttings in your compost heap, but
rather burn your rose prunings.
Roses also love potash which
can be naturally found in wood
ash from your winter wood fires. Potash encourages
good sturdy growth, hardens
the young stems and helps to throw off and prevents mildew.
Fork this mixture in lightly around the
roots of the plants, but do this before mulching
some well-rotted farmyard manure just after
Once new growth is underway an application
of specially formulated rose food and a dressing of
compost or manure will be the helping hand
to ensure a new season full of bloom.
When this is completed, give each rose
bush a good spraying with a lime-sulphur mixture, allowing
20 parts of water
to 1 part of lime
Then in the spring, when
the bushes are
covered with foliage, give another
spraying with the same mixture.
Be sure to do this second spraying in
the cool of the evening. This will
help protect the new foliage against
disease. The strength now is 40 parts water to 1 part
Final Word of Advice
Roses are hardy. They will soon bounce
back, even if they have been
badly pruned the season before, so don't be too afraid of giving
pruning a go!
Video on How to Prune Roses
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