How To Deadhead Roses

Roses are something we grow A LOT of! We have around 36 bushes throughout our yard in all shapes, varieties, and colors. One of the most important things to keep these beauties in bloom is deadheading roses, so today we’re going to teach you how to deadhead roses to encourage the most blooms and keep your plants nice and healthy.

Roses tend to have a reputation for being hard to grow, but if you know how to properly deadhead roses it will make keeping them that much easier. An important thing to remember when working with roses it’s really really important to have clean tools so that you don’t introduce disease or bacteria to the cuts you make.

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Pruning Roses

Here in Tennessee, we have two big problems when growing roses, keeping our roses fungus-free with all of the humidity and rain we get, and Japanese Beetles and aphids who find roses a tasty treat [check out our tips on how to get rid of Japanese Beetles naturally]. Between the two it’s a summer-long struggle, but pruning roses properly can help head off some of the problems.

What you need to deadhead roses:

Why You Should Deadhead Your Roses

Before we get into the ins and outs of how to deadhead roses let’s take a minute and talk about why it’s so important to deadhead them. Deadheading roses simply means you are removing spent blooms. Whatever variety of rose you have it’s super important for you to deadhead them, this will encourage them to keep producing beautiful blooms. There is a lot of controversy on just how to deadhead roses, or even prune them.

When it comes to how to deadhead roses there are two methods you can use, both are perfectly acceptable so use whichever method produces the results you are looking for and ignore those that tell you, you are doing it all wrong. Yep, I just gave you permission!

How To Deadhead Roses

How To Deadhead Roses To The 5-leaf Junction

The first method we’re going to talk about is the 5-leaf junction method, this is the one we use on our own bushes. This method of deadheading roses is super easy, all you need is a pair of garden shears and some white glue (anything but school glue, it tends to wash off). Cut the cane of the spent bloom at the first 5-leaf junction, make sure you cut it at an angle so that the water slides off instead of pooling water. Leave 3/16-1/4 inch above the junction, this will promote further growth and blooming.

Coat the cut ends of the cane you’ve just deadheaded in white glue to seal them and prevent and cane boring insects from getting in and killing the cane and in some cases the whole bush. Avoid the use of wood glue when deadheading roses because this can kill the canes.  If some of your bushes have fungus be sure to clean the blades of your shears with antiseptic wipes, peroxide, or bleach mixture before moving on to the next bush so you won’t spread it.

How To Deadhead Roses: The Twist and Pull Method

The second method of how to deadhead roses is to take hold of the spent blooms with your fingers and quickly twist your wrist so that it pops off. This method can leave sticks behind that will die back and not look pretty for a while. With some roses, this can cause weak new growth that can’t support new growth and cause drooping blooms.

How To Deadhead Knockout Roses

Either the 5-leaf junction or twisting method will work when deadheading knockout roses. Knockout roses will bloom every 5-6 weeks if deadheaded regularly.

When To Deadhead Roses

Deadhead your roses when the blooms are spent, you’ll what to do this regularly to promote new blooms all summer. If you live in an area that gets a real winter STOP deadheading roses in the fall and allows the roses bushes to set the spent blooms into hips. After they do this the rose will hibernate for the winter, rose bushes are extremely durable and will come through the winter just fine.

Fun tip: rosehips are edible, roses are in the same family as apple trees. Once the blooms have faded and turned into rose hips that look like tiny crab apples, are swollen and bright in color(mostly orange) they can be snipped and dried. Rosehips are high in Vitamin C! The best time to harvest them is right after the first LIGHT frost, but before a heavy frost freezes their buds. The frost will help to sweeten their flavor. The hip should be firm and have good color. Waiting until after the first frost will also help to ensure the rose doesn’t send out another batch of blooms.

Deadheading Roses

Either the 5-leaf junction or the twist-off method will work when deadheading roses, it just depends on what you want your overall bushes to look like. We use the 5-leaf junction because it gives us the opportunity to sculpt the roses as we deadhead so we get the shape we want while encouraging new blooms.

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Did we answer all of your how-to deadhead roses questions? Tell us in the comments and we will try to answer them!


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