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Deadheading Roses

It's a different sounding term, deadheading, but it is exactly what you need to do to keep your Rose bushes blooming. Roses need to be encouraged to grow back more blooms, otherwise they would just complete the growth cycle and turn roses in to hips. They need to basically be tricked back into blooming with more flowers. Roses feed from the roots and are stimulated by deadheading spent blooms into a new growth cycle. It is the only way to have roses keep blooming on repeat flowering shrubs.

Deadheading spent blooms also opens up the shrub somewhat for air circulation and can get ride of unwanted bugs on your rose bushes.

You'll need a good pair of sharp curved bypass shears to make clean cuts. Take your bypass pruners and cut down at a 45° angle to 1/4" above the first five leaflets on the stem of your bush. Make the cut facing outward so your bush grows outward and it keeps the shrub open and airy. This will stimulate the bush to produce a new flower on repeat blooming roses. Deadhead whenever you have spent blooms. This is more important in northern gardening zones because of the short growing season.

If you make your cut farther down the stem to another set of 5-leaflets, it will take more energy to re-grow the stem and take longer for the rose bush to bloom again off that stem

If you garden in northern zones such as growing zones, stop deadheading your roses 6 weeks before the first expected frost date in your area to harden off the rose for winter.

If your rose bush blooms in clusters such as Old Garden, Antique and Floribunda roses you will need to cut where the clusters meet the cane or farther down the stem, which will take a little longer to produce new blooms.

For roses that are once-blooming, they do not need repeat deadheading. A good pruning right after they bloom is the right time to prune as this will encourage new green growth for next years roses as once-blooming roses bloom on old wood.

Check the following diagrams for pruning roses:

  • Finding the 1st-5 leaflets
  • Deadheading the rose
  • After the cut
  • A Rose Hip