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Pruning Roses

Pruning roses is an essential part of growing beautiful rose bushes. Whether you're new to growing roses or you're an experienced rose grower, you'll need to learn how about pruning roses to keep your rose bushes well pruned and shaped.

Pruning is the science of removing old growth to stimulate new stems, leaves and, rose blooms. There is disagreement in the rose growing community about when and how to prune roses, but it is required nonetheless. Don't be afraid to prune, because it is better to prune too much and let your mistakes grow back, than it is to let your roses grow wild.

Here is what you'll need for pruning roses:

  • A Good Pair of Curved Bypass Shears
    Make sure your pruners or shears are sharp. To sharpen, take a file or sharpening stone and lay it nearly parallel to the blade on the beveled section. Press down on the blade, and file down the length of the blade (away from you), repeating until sharp. Only file one direction - don't go back and forth.

  • A lopper

  • A pruning saw
    If you don't know what this is, ask for them at your local hardware store

  • Alcohol or bleach as a disinfectant for your shears
    This is an often overlooked step, but is extremely important. Shears need to be disinfected so you do not pass diseases between your rose bushes

  • A good pair of leather gloves

Roses need to be pruned when first planting and during different times of the Calendar year. If your rose bush is a shrub or climber, and it only blooms once a year, follow these guidelines:

  • Prune only after blooming or as it's called the flush is over in summer. This will encourage new green growth on old wood for the next years flowers.

  • Prune climbers 1/4" above the 1st five leaflets on the stem of your bush. Make the cut facing outward so your bush grows outward.

  • Climbing roses are spectacular and a garden showpiece, so learn how to shape your rose and secure it properly before pruning. After the first bloom, also cut away any old wood or if canes are crossing over, prune so they have a chance to grow freely and not crossed

If you have a repeat-blooming rose - whether it's a miniature or larger shrub - follow the directions below for pruning your rose bush:

  • When Planting a New Bareroot rose
    Follow directions from the nursery when planting. For pruning the new rose, cut back bareroot roses by 1/3 to encourage growth. Also prune any roots that are broken before you plant.

  • Planting new potted roses
    Prune sparsely. Usually these roses are already in bloom, or getting ready to bloom, and the only pruning that is needed would be broken stems. You may also need to deadhead old blooms.

  • Prune in the spring when leaves are starting too bud out. ( when forsythia is blooming in your area)

Pruning is necessary for healthy plant growth and blooms for spring and summer roses. Look for broken, black or shriveled canes and crossed over canes, and prune out. Open up the center of your rose for air. You can safely prune back a rose by a third in the spring to promote new leaves, stems and roses. If your winter was really bad and you need more pruning, do it. Roses will respond to a good pruning and reward you with a bounty of beautiful roses in summer.