Pruning roses is important if you want healthy, abundant roses. Old roses or dead, excess, or diseased canes can block sunlight and circulation of air, which are essential to healthy roses. You also want to prune weak, thin stems; otherwise, they eventually seed and become dormant, which affects the roses’ appearance and causes smaller blooms.
Rose pruning also controls wintering bugs and diseases. During the winter, rose bushes are a warm place for bugs and diseases to hide. Spring pruning gets rid of the bugs and diseases that made your rose bush their home during the winter.
Pruning roses requires only a sharp pair of pruning shears, although you may need several sizes, and thick gloves. This article offers pruning tips and a short pruning video.
When pruning roses, be aware of how you cut each rose. A bad cut may make it harder for the roses to bloom again. However, a bad cut can be better than no pruning. Avoid these cuts:
- Rough cuts. A rough cut bruises tissue in the stem and is slow to heal. Avoid rough cuts by making sure you have the proper tools and by removing dead wood before cutting.
- Cuts where the angle of the prune is not set right. Always angle the cut towards the bud.
- Cuts too high above the bud. Such cuts make it harder for the nutrients to reach the bud. Generally, make the cut approximately 1/4-inch above the bud.
Although every rose is different, certain guidelines apply for most rose plants. Remember that the objective of pruning roses is to remove or reduce parts of the plant that are not necessary, increase air circulation, and improve sun distribution.
Here are six rose pruning tips you can use for most roses:
- Start by cutting away dead wood and removing broken canes or canes damaged by insects, weather, or disease. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between live wood and dead wood. Live wood is usually a healthy green, but winter frost may turn the wood black so it resembles dead wood. To determine if the wood is alive or dead, make a slight cut on one of the stems. If it’s alive, the inside wood will be white.Also, remove thin and spindly wood or canes, so that the plant can use its energy for healthy stems. As a general rule, cut out any branches that cross and are rubbing against one another, because canes that touch can help disease spread.
- Cut the flowering canes back by a third to a half. Make these pruning cuts just above buds (the small nobbles that grow along a stem, where new shoots will grow). Cut above buds that are facing outwards to encourage new growth to develop outwards. Rose bushes that grow outward receive better sun distribution and air circulation and have a more attractive shape.Angle the shears at 45 degrees, pointing toward the middle of the rose bush. Make the cut approximately 1/4-inch above the bud. Ragged or incomplete cuts can invite disease and insect borers, so make your cuts as sharply and cleanly as possible.
- Remove suckers (spouts that come from the roots) and dead cane that is emerging from the ground. They attract pests and disease.
- For cuts wider than the diameter of a pencil, consider sealing the cut with white wood glue. Sealing the cuts speeds up the plant’s healing process and prevents insect borers from entering through recent cuts.
- Don’t leave the rose pruning debris on the ground surrounding the plant, and don’t put diseased or insect-infested debris in your compost pile.
- Throughout the year, practice proper rose pruning techniques, even during the active growing season. Inspect your blooms for vigor. If are poorly positioned (growing inward rather than out), remove them after their blooms fade. Also, remove dead blossoms from roses (a technique called deadheading) that bloom more than once a season to encourage more blooms.