Knowing how to prune roses isn’t as easy as you might think. Even the most experienced gardener has trouble with 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 just as important as pruning hydrangeas† do it right and the plant will grow back stronger and healthier with fresh buds. It won’t take long and you’ll soon see the effects of your work, so it’s worth doing. Would you like some guidance? Here we explain exactly how to prune roses so that you get the best results.
First you need to check what kind of roses you have. If you’re not sure, don’t worry, we’ll cover the basics below that will work for all types of roses.
If houseplants are more your thing, check out our guide to caring for succulents.
How To Prune Roses — The Basics
What you will need
Protective garden gloves
1. All the time use bypass scissors instead of anvil scissors for a clean cut that won’t damage the stem. Do you want also wear effective gardening gloves as well as long sleeves so you are fully protected from any thorns. If you don’t have these, the Fiskars Steel Secateurs 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 knoband must slope away from it.
3. If you prune in the spring, start removing all remaining leavesso 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 necessary, if at all, because it is still in early growth and needs to establish its roots. In general, this only represents a reduction of about a third of the total size.
5. If you have an older plant, you can: Cut back further to encourage more growthor just to clear the mold.
6. If you want more outward growth, prune back to outward-facing buds† You can also prune some stems inward if you want to encourage more height.
7. You should too cut away all entangled stems competing for space or at risk of damaging each other. You can seal fresh cuts if you’d like, but it’s not necessary, as roses take care of themselves.
8. You should too remove all dead or thin stems that probably won’t produce flowers – prune back to the living wood, which looks green on the outside. Get rid of diseased branches you can also see it by pruning back to the healthy branch.
9. You can also remove the general woody vegetationbut keep an eye on how thin your plant looks because of this.
10. Cut into desired shapebut if you want more flowers on the bottom, cut the top into a dome instead of flat.
11. Keep in mind that if you cut back your roses right away, they may not bloom again until the following year, because all the energy instead goes into regrowth the stems.
Don’t be shy when pruning your roses – most will repair themselves and grow back quickly. Ultimately, it is better for the plant to prune it rather than leave it alone.
How To Prune Roses — Knock Out Roses
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 total height. Keep in mind that regrowth can occur up to 12 inches below the cuts you make. Deadheading is not necessary with Knock Out roses, but it will encourage new blooms. Otherwise, follow the general directions above, removing any old or dead stems first and cutting back to the desired shape.
How to Prune Roses — Climbing Roses
Climbing roses can be drastically reduced to the base if necessary – as long as you leave between 3-5 canes that are 5 feet or longer. If your climbing rose only has one thick stem, don’t prune it back too hard. Cut it back by a maximum of one-third or one-half or it may not grow back. As a general rule, when pruning climbing roses, you should leave the supported frame unpruned and work on the side shoots instead, unless the frame grows in an undesirable direction that cannot be supported.
When should you prune roses?
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 variety that blooms once a year, wait until after flowering before pruning – this will likely be in early summer. Prune shrub roses in summer after flowering. You want to make it a habit to prune your roses once a year for best growth.
Any heavy pruning after that will only reduce the number of flowers you will get in the future. We do not recommend pruning back in the fall, as this will make your roses more susceptible 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 an orchid, and how to prune hydrangeas.