Deadheading Roses

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Deadheading roses is nothing more than cutting off the older, dried up, dead blooms. Removing old blooms encourages your repeat-blooming roses to bloom more.

Is it necessary to deadheading all roses?

No. You only need to remove old blooms from roses that bloom more than once during the growing season.

The rose is the flower for the fruit (hips) that grow on the rose bush. The formation of hips requires the bush to use a lot of energy, and if the energy is going into growing hips, it is not going into producing flowers. By removing old blooms, you are preventing the formation of hips, which means that the rose bush will produce more flowers instead.

How do you deadheading roses?

Use sharp pruning shears and cut the stem at a 45-degree angle about 1/4-inch above a leaf set.

Leaf sets on roses have either 3, 5, or 7 leaves. The first time in the growing season that you remove blooms, cut near the top of the stem, which will probably be just above a 3-leaf set.

Each subsequent cut can be a bit lower, as the stem grows longer, probably just above a 5-leaf set. Keep at least two 5-leaf sets on each shoot. The goal is to cut the stem far enough down so that the new growth produces a decent-sized cane.

However, if you have a recently planted rose, it’s usually best to continue cutting above the uppermost 3-leaf set for the first growing season. Removing a large amount of foliage reduces the rose’s ability to manufacture food and weakens the young plant.

Stop removing blooms in autumn to avoid encouraging more new growth that could be damaged by early frosts.

Tip: If you live in an area that has cane borers, seal new cuts using either nail polish or Elmer’s Glue.

Updated: November 9, 2012 — 5:28 pm

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