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When To Prune Roses

Roses are a gorgeous addition to your garden, but how and when to prune roses can be really confusing but they do need some work to keep them in the best of health. Knowing when to prune your roses ensures that you have a healthy plant and beautiful blooms season after season.

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pink roses | When to prune roses, tips for pruning roses in every season

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Why Prune Rose Bushes

Roses are beautiful, and generally pretty easy to grow. But they can also be susceptible to fungus and will stop blooming if you don’t upkeep them. This is why pruning your roses- the right way is so important. Pruning your roses ensure that light and air can get through your plants which in turn helps to keep your plants from getting diseased. Now on to what you need to prune your roses and when to prune roses!

Pruning Tools For Rose Bushes

Depending on how established your rose bushes are you’ll either need:

You may also want some:

When To Prune Roses

Most of the rose pruning happens in the spring, however, you’ll still need to do some light pruning throughout the season to keep our roses blooming through the season. Some people recommend waiting until the forsythia has begun blooming to start pruning roses. 

The goal of spring pruning your roses is to create an open-centered plant, this will help your plant stay healthy and allow the air to circulate through your plant. It also allows light to easily penetrate into your plant. Plan to do any major pruning on your roses between January and May. 

When to prune roses can be confusing with so many roses out there, the basics stay the same but when to prune them depends on the class of ross you have. 

When To Prune Knockout Roses

To maintain a Knock Out rose of 3–4’ w x 3–4’ h, they should be cut back once a year to 12” high in early spring (after the last hard frost of the year). Usually, if you cut your Knock Out Rose back in the early spring, it will triple in size by the end of the growing season.

You can learn more about how to prune Knock Out roses here.

When To Prune Ever-Blooming Roses

Roses like hybrid teas, grandifloras, floribundas, and miniatures bloom the best on new or current season’s wood. For these types of roses, they should be pruned very hard in the early spring. This typically means you’ll be removing about one-half to two-thirds of your plant’s height and reducing the number of canes.


How To Prune Ever-Blooming Roses

  • Remove any dead canes from your plant. Cut them off at the base or at the point of discoloration.
  • Remove any small or weak canes from your rose bushes.
  • Leave about 3 to 5 healthy, stout canes evenly spaced around your rose bush. Once you have 3-5 branches left, cut these canes back, leaving 3 to 5 outward-facing buds.

When To Prune Climbing Roses

Climbers roses might need a few seasons in the garden before it’s time to prune them. For these roses, when to prune roses will be early in the year. For the most part, the pruning will be limited to removing winter-damaged wood, or branches. If you reduce the side shoots (or laterals) to 3-5 inches, it stimulates flower production which will give you more blooms. (Training the canes to grow more horizontally will also encourage the growth of bloom-producing side shoots).

Pruning Roses In The Summer

Once your spring pruning is over, for the most part, your pruning is over. Unless you have once-blooming roses (which you’ll need to hold off on your pruning until they bloom because they bloom on old wood). Over the summer you’ll need to deadhead your roses to keep them blooming. 

You can read all about how to deadhead your roses in this article.

Pruning Roses In The Autumn

When to prune roses in the autumn and when to stop is going to depend on where you live. Here in Tennessee, we stop deadheading our roses in late September, or early October. We stop deadheading them a little before our first frost so they have time to go into dormancy before the cold weather moves in. 

How To Prune Roses For Winter

The final thing you need to know when it comes to when to prune roses is winter pruning. Serious pruning in the fall may stimulate your plants to new growth which will be damaged in the winter. We like to wait to do our winter pruning until after the plants have reached dormancy, and then

  • Remove any flowers left on the plant.
  • Remove dead or broken stems from the plant (winter weather can rip these off and damage the plants more), Cut diseased limbs back at least 6 inches into the healthy wood. 
  • Cut out suckers as close to their point of origin as possible.

Pruning Roses Principles

Now that you know when to prune roses let’s talk about how to prune roses. Before you jump into pruning your roses, here are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Always use clean, sharp tools to prune roses.
  • Make your cuts at a 45-degree angle about 1/4 inch above an outward-facing bud. The cut should slant away from the bud.
  • Completely remove any dead or dying canes from your rose bushes. You can find these by looking for any canes that are shriveled, dark brown, or black.
  • If you have a problem with cane borers, seal the ends of the cut branches with something like white glue.
  • Remove any thin or weak canes smaller than a pencil around.
  • If your roses are grafted and have suckers growing, remove them (the best way is to dig down to the root where the sucker is originating and tear it off where it emerges).
  • DO NOT prune newly planted roses, they need at least a season to get established. The second-year prune with a very light hand. 

Did we answer all of your when to prune roses questions? If not drop them in the comments and we will try to answer them!

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