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Advice and Tips on Pruning Roses

Most beginners will be wondering when and how to prune roses (e.g. should it be Autumn or Spring time)? This section explains how and when to cut back roses in the United Kingdom.

With normal bush roses, such as the hybrid teas and floribunda types, there are two optimum times for pruning (depending on your garden situation).

Cutting Back Your Rose Bushes in Autumn

You should be carrying out extensive pruning in early spring time – which is the end of March for areas in the northern hemisphere.

Besides this, there is a form of autumn pruning that is also desirable and recommended by most rose growing experts.

The autumn pruning of roses simply entails cutting back and reducing the length of individual stems (up to halfway).

Rose Pruning Tip: Always wear good quality protective gloves when pruning roses because rose thorns can be ‘spiteful’!

If you consider this as being the standard ‘pruning rules‘ it is particularly the case for roses that are growing in a spot where they may suffer from autumn and winter winds.

So, what can happen if you leave roses unpruned? It can increase the risk of the rosebush suffering root damage (e.g. being rocked back and forth).

There is also an increased chance of damage affecting the bottom part of the stems – where they connect to 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, no matter how or where you make the cut. The real purpose is to prevent wind rock damage. So, making a clean cut with sharp secateurs or loppers is the objective.

Simply put, 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.

Note: The main section contains more advice and information explaining how to prune common plants and trees in the United Kingdom.

How to Prune a Rose Bush?

Make a clean pruning cut slightly above a dormant bud. It does not need to be an outward facing bud. 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 fifteen (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 main benefits of this shape is that it helps to create 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 twenty (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.

Note: It is best not to make the pruning cuts above them. In most cases, they would probably succumb to a late frost anyway!

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