Pruning Roses - When & How?

Pruning Roses
There are many different types and varieties of roses. These all require different pruning times and pruning methods which you can read below.

Pruning roses calendar

You can use the following calendar as a guide. We made the calendar in PDF format as well, so you can easily download it. Download it here.

All roses may develop suckers, which are wild shoots that grow from the rootstock of the plant. These wild shoots should be cut off as closely to the base as possible. See the instructions below.

Large-flowered roses

Pruning in February and March
Large-flowered roses can be pruned as early as February or March, depending on the weather. It is not a good idea to prune roses in freezing weather as this may cause frost damage. Cut away any branches that have been damaged by frost and also remove the dead wood.

We recommend allowing no more than five main branches to develop on the plants. If there are too many branches, these can be reduced in size, preferably to different lengths. Cut the thick branches of large-flowered roses down to seven buds and cut thinner branches down to five buds. The highest bud should preferably be outward facing so that any new branch that develops will grow outwards.

Cut the roses just above the bud using sharp secateurs.

Pruning in summer

Pruning roses in summer is also known as dead-heading, which means cutting off the faded flowers. The more are removed, the more new flowers will develop. This is especially true of perpetual rose varieties such as large-flowered roses. Removing the dead flowers prevents the plant from wasting its energy on seed formation (i.e. the development of hips). Cut the roses back to the first leaf with five leaflets.

Of course, some varieties are chosen specifically for their attractive hips. Obviously the flowers of these roses should be left alone.

Pruning in October and November

If you want to tidy up your rose bushes before winter, this can be done in autumn after the flowering period. Large-flowered roses should not be cut too short as the branches may freeze in winter.

Hedging roses

Pruning in February - March

February and March are ideal months for thinning out hedging roses. Cut the oldest branches away and/or cut the entire bush back to a height of about 40 cm. Any dead wood and frost-damaged branches can also be removed in March. It is better not to dead-head hedging roses in summer, as this would prevent rosehips from developing, and rosehips have great decorative value for hedges.

Climbing roses

Pruning in February – March

Climbing roses do not need pruning in the first few years after planting, but these roses should eventually be pruned otherwise they will become very tall and gangly. The attractive greenery and pretty flowers will then develop higher and higher up the plant and the lower part will become bare. To prevent this from happening, cut some of the main branches back to three buds, which is about 30-40 cm from the ground, every year. Select branches from all over the plant, as this pruning encourages new growth. Remove about a third or a quarter of the branches each time, and the plant will be completely rejuvenated in three or four years. The dead branches can also be removed after winter.

The side branches that have flowered the previous year should be cut back hard, to about 2 to 3 cm from the main branch. Do not remove the young wood, as this produces the most flowers. Cut the main branches back by about a third.

Pruning in summer

Pruning roses in summer is also known as dead-heading, which means cutting off the faded flowers. The more are removed, the more new flowers will develop. This is especially true of perpetual rose varieties. Removing the dead flowers prevents the plant from wasting its energy on seed formation (i.e. the development of hips). Cut back to the first leaf with five leaflets.

Ground cover roses

Pruning in March

Ground cover roses require very little pruning. Just remove any dead wood and frost-damaged branches in March.

Pruning in summer

If any wild shoots have developed, these should be removed completely in the summer months.

Miniature roses

Pruning in February - March

Miniature roses also benefit from pruning in spring. This keeps the plants young and vigorous.

Pruning in summer

Pruning roses in summer is also known as dead-heading, which means cutting off the faded flowers. The more are removed, the more new flowers will develop. This is especially true of perpetual rose varieties such as miniature roses. Removing the dead flowers prevents the plant from wasting its energy on seed formation (i.e. the development of hips). Cut the miniature roses back to the first leaf with five leaflets.

Standard roses

Pruning in February - March

For the best results, leave about five main branches after pruning standard roses. Cut the thick branches back to seven buds and cut thinner branches back to five buds. The highest bud should preferably be outward facing. You can also remove dead wood and frost-damaged branches in March.

Pruning in summer

Pruning roses in summer is also known as dead-heading, which means cutting off the faded flowers. The more are removed, the more new flowers will develop. This is especially true of perpetual rose varieties. Removing the dead flowers prevents the plant from wasting its energy on seed formation (i.e. the development of hips). Cut the roses back to the first leaf with five leaflets.

Spray roses

Pruning in February and March

Spray roses can be pruned as early as February or March, depending on the weather. It is not a good idea to prune roses in freezing weather as this may cause frost damage. Cut away any branches that have been damaged by frost and also remove the dead wood. We recommend allowing no more than five main branches to develop on the plants. If there are too many branches, these can be reduced in size, preferably to different lengths. Cut the thick branches of spray roses down to seven buds and cut thinner branches down to five buds. The highest bud should preferably be outward facing so that any new branch that develops will grow outwards. Cut the roses just above the bud using sharp secateurs.

Pruning in summer

Pruning roses in summer is also known as dead-heading, which means cutting off the faded flowers. The more are removed, the more new flowers will develop. This is especially true of perpetual rose varieties such as spray roses. Removing the dead flowers prevents the plant from wasting its energy on seed formation (i.e. the development of hips). Cut the roses back to the first leaf with five leaflets.

Of course, some varieties are chosen specifically for their attractive hips. Obviously the flowers of these roses should be left alone.

Pruning in October and November

If you want to tidy up your rose bushes before winter, this can be done in autumn after the flowering period. Floribunda roses should not be cut too short as the branches may freeze in winter.

Occasionally the part of the plant below the graft union (the so-called wild rootstock) produces one or more branches that are known as wild shoots, or suckers. These will not produce beautiful flowers, so they need to be removed completely. Cut the wild shoots off as close to the stem as possible.

The leaves of the wild shoots look very different from those of the grafted variety, so the suckers are easy to spot.

Don't forget to download the pruning roses calendar.

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