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Pruning Roses

Pruning Roses

You need to know the type** of rose you have. Unsure? If you know its common name, Google it. eg: Imperial

*Types from least hardy to most hardy: Tree (or Standard), Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora, Floribunda, David Austin (English), Carpet, Shrub, Rambling, Miniature, Sub-zero (Explorer) and *whether it is Continuous Flowering, Repeat Flowering, or Single Flowering.

General Rules of Pruning: Dead, Diseased, Damaged, Dangerous, Design

Cuts should be made 1⁄4 inch above an outward facing bud.

When to prune & Guidelines:

Old garden shrub roses & ramblers-establish for 2 years before pruning.

Single Flowering: In summer after the flowering period. All others: Early spring when buds are swelling.

Type of Rose


Hybrid Tea

Leave 4 stalks with 4-5 buds each.

Aim for a Vase shape.

Grandiflora & Floribunda

Leave 5 stalks with 5-6 buds each.

Shrub & Miniature

Remove 1/3 of the branches. (Length & number)

Rambling & Carpet

Shorten main branches by 1/3 and shorten laterals to 2-3 buds.

All Roses

Benefit from pruning even if it’s not professional

If you see a sprout coming out below the graft or from the roots, eliminate it by tearing it out. (It will have distinctly difffferent leaves, usually 7 instead of 5.)
After July, leave a few dead blooms to form rosehips to signal to the plant to prepare for the coming winter.

Fertilization: - All types. Fertilize first thing in the spring and again after the first flush of blooms. Use a granular, all purpose, natural based organic fertilizer, at least 2-5-2, at the rate of 2 cups per rose bush. Bonemeal and compost are good. Water soil after fertilizing, preferably in the morning. Roses prefer irrigation type of watering not overhead. Instead of composting banana peels, bury some around your roses. They love it. Do not fertilize after mid August.

Cut a bloom so as to leave 2 sets of leaves to get more blossoms.

Really basic pruning of roses: Wait until early spring, after danger of hard frost is past so new growth doesn’t get nipped. Cut out all canes (or part of) that

are dead, winter damaged (broken), diseased, unshapely, or rubbing against others. Then remove all thin growth, anything smaller in diameter than a pencil. Finally, remove all but five to ten strong canes. Prune the canes that are left, cutting back, up to, but no more than, half of a cane’s length. That’s it. 

Download a handout below

Dinah Wilson,
May 28, 2014, 1:21 PM