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How to Prune a Rose

The mystical art of pruning is one of the major deterrents to people buying a rose. This is sad, because it's actually very simple, and most roses are resilient enough to survive the odd bad pruning.

Pruning a rose

Why are roses pruned?

• To remove old, dead or unproductive growth

• To encourage good air circulation and prevent disease

• To encourage vigorous growth in the coming year When? Roses can be pruned lightly, i.e. topped or pruned into shape for appearance, once flowering has finished. They can be pruned hard in March, once temperatures have risen and new growth is starting to resume

How? Top Tips


• Make sure that your secateurs are sharp. A blunt pair will mangle the rose stems, making them more vulnerable to disease. They will also be much harder work for you to use.

• Make cuts on a 45 degree angle to encourage water to run off it, rather than sit on top of the cut and lead to split stems and ultimately rot.

• Clean your secateurs after each rose bush to avoid spreading disease. Use a dilution of Jeyes Fluid.

• Cut above an outward facing leaf bud to encourage growth outwards rather than inwards.

Whatever the type of rose you are pruning, start with 'The Three Ds', and cut out any dead, damaged, or diseased stems.

Take a look at the remaining stems. Where stems are crossing and rubbing against each other, the friction damage to the stems will provide an entry point for disease. Cut out whichever of the crossing stems is weakest.

Cut out any weak stems thinner than a pencil, and allow the rose to focus its energy on the growth of the strongest stems, and maintain a good circulation of air within the rose bush, reducing the risk of disease. You can now prune the remaining stems in accordance with the requirements of their specific type.

Routine Pruning Requirements Once Established

Rose Type

Ground Cover - Little or no pruning required.

Hybrid Tea - Prune back by two thirds.

Floribunda - Prune back by two thirds.

Shrub - Prune back by one third to one half.

Patio - Little or no routine pruning required.

Climbing - Prune back any side shoot by two thirds.

Rambling - Cut back any old and woody stems to the base. Cut back old growth to the length of the new growth. Most ramblers flower on last years growth so if you prune you won't get any flowers.

New Roses


Rose Care


Our Simple Guide
to Rose Care

Read More