3 Basic Steps to Pruning Roses

3 Basic Rose Pruning Steps

pruning roses There are three basic pruning steps that apply to all roses, whether they are established or otherwise recently planted. Treat these three steps as part of your routine whenever you are planting roses or pruning roses. Many roses will need very little further attention.

  1. Remove all dead, damaged or diseased stems. Cut back to just above a bud on healthy wood or take out the stem completely, cutting back to a junction with a healthy stem or even the rootstock itself.
  2. Remove weak or thin stems. These are unlikely to produce flowers, yet they will take strength that the plant could put into other, better growth. Cut back to a join with a healthy strong-growing stem, or to the rootstock
  3. Take out the least vigorous of stems that cross or rub. Either cut the stem right out or prune back to a growth bud below the point where the two stems cross. With ramblers and climber roses, cut out some of the overcrowding stems and remember that training and tying will be needed to prevent rubbing.

Initial Pruning

Whatever kind of rose you are planting, begin by following the three basic pruning steps.

Hybrid teas and hybrid perpetuals must be pruned hard to outward-facing buds about 10cm (4in) above ground. Prune floribundas less hard, to buds about 15cm (6in) from the ground; reduce dwarf varieties to 7.5cm (3M). Hybrid teas and floribundas grown as standards can be pruned even more moderately.

Prune the increasingly popular miniature roses to leave stems about 5cm (2in) high. Cut back the stems of polyanthas, such as ‘The Fairy’, by about one third.

Old roses need no pruning other than the basic steps. Remove about 7.5cm (3M) from the tips of species roses, modern shrub roses, climbers and ramblers.

Newly Planted Hybrid Tea Roses

  1. Carry out the three basic pruning steps — remove dead, damaged, diseased or weak stems and any that cross or crowd the centre of the bush.
  2. Cut all stems down to 10cm (4in) from the ground, above an outward-facing bud. This encourages an open, well-balanced bush.

Newly Planted Floribunda Roses

  1. Carry out the three basic pruning steps. Floribundas are more vigorous and free-flowering than hybrid teas and need less severe pruning.
  2. Then cut remaining stems down to outward-facing buds at about 15cm (6in) above ground level. Always use sharp tools and make clean cuts.

Pruning Bush Roses

The hybrid teas, floribundas, polyanthas and miniatures, together with the standards derived from these groups, make up a large category of roses which are all pruned in much the same way.

Reduce the stems of hybrid tea roses and hybrid perpetuals by about one third. This moderate pruning is adequate to give a good garden display. Hard pruning to within three buds of the base results in fewer but better flowers.

Hybrid tea roses which are grown for exhibition, are normally hard pruned. The very vigorous kinds may occasionally need hard pruning to check tall growth which might get damaged in high winds.

In autumn, trim the top growth of tall bush roses to reduce the risk of wind damage. Do not hard prune standard hybrid teas.

  1. A bush rose in need of pruning will have a mixture of wood — dead or old unproductive stems, diseased and weak stems, and some that cross.
  2. Cut back a dead stem to the point where it meets a healthy stem. Cut back any part of a stem which is diseased to just above a bud on healthy wood.
  3. Cut out thin or weak stems to their point of union with a strong stem or with the rootstock to allow more nourishment to reach vigorous wood.
  4. Cut out stems that cross or rub. Remove the weaker of the two, cutting to a growth bud below where they cross, to prevent a crowded centre.
  5. Every spring, prune bush roses of average growth lightly, to ensure a good display. In general, prune weaker varieties and thin shoots more severely than vigorous ones.
  6. Hard prune a bush rose every year if you want to grow large, well-formed blooms, though few in number. Always begin pruning with the three basic steps.

Pruning Shrub Roses

Old and modern shrub roses, and the species roses, require only light pruning.

After completing the three basic pruning steps, check plants to see if any vigorous new shoots have developed from old stems. Where this has occurred, cut back the old stem to the junction with the new shoot. Check for any exceptionally long stems which distort the shrub’s balance. If there are any, cut them back by about one third. Cut back all laterals that flowered the previous summer to a strong bud about 10cm (4in) from the main stem. Lastly, cut back the tips of all main stems by 10-15cm (4-6in) to encourage side shoots which will bear flowers during the following year.

  1. A shrub rose ready for pruning. Remove all dead and diseased stems.
  2. Cut back all long shoots by about one third to prevent drooping.
  3. Cut old exhausted stems back to the junction with new healthy laterals.
  4. From the base, cut out dead stems and any that cross in the centre.
  5. Finally, lightly tip all remaining stems to promote strong lateral growth.

Pruning Climber Roses

The pruning of the vigorous climbing roses and the shorter-growing pillar roses needs to go hand in hand with training These roses flower on the previous season’s wood. Most do not shoot readily from the base — new wood appears higher up the old stems of the leaders.

In summer, trim stems that have borne flowers back to a new bud. In winter, cut main stems (or leaders) back to vigorous new shoots. However, if no new growth has formed, cut back leaders and laterals (the stems growing from the leaders) by about half. As far as possible, train new shoots to grow horizontally — this will stimulate the growth of flower-bearing side-shoots.

  1. Prune a climber in early winter, after its flowering twigs have been trimmed back in summer. Remove spindly wood, but retain a framework of new shoots for the next year’s flowers.
  2. Summer pruning after the climber has flowered. Trim back the flowered twigs to selected new buds. Don’t let hips form — they drain the rose’s energy.
  3. In winter, remove old wood, cuffing back the leaders to strong new shoots.
  4. If no new shoots have grown from a leader, prune it and its laterals by about half to encourage new side-shoots.

Pruning Rambler Roses

The ramblers are lax-growing scramblers producing a single but profuse crop of flowers in the summer. The long flexible canes which develop from the base of the plants bear flowers in their second year.

Begin pruning in early autumn by carrying out the three basic steps. With those ramblers that produce new canes from the base, cut old flowered canes right out from the rootstock and tie in new canes to replace them. In some ramblers, the new stems spring not from the base, but from some point along an old stem. With these, cut back the old cane to where the new stem is growing away. Tie it in place.

The tangling vigour of ramblers can make pruning difficult. Cut out old canes in sections rather than in one piece.

  1. Prune ramblers after flowering or as soon as new canes sprout freely.
  2. Cut flowered stems back to the base, or junction with a new cane.

05. November 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Pruning Roses, Rose Care, Roses | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on 3 Basic Steps to Pruning Roses


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