How to prune roses
The general rule when pruning roses is that the more you prune, the larger the flowers.
There are a number of important reasons for pruning and these include:
- To reduce the size of the overall rose plant.
- Focus the plant’s nutrients on the stronger stems to produce bigger and better blooms.
- Give the rose bush structure and a more attractive shape.
- Remove dead branches or ones that are broken or malformed. These could be using valuable nutrients.
- Encourage new plant growth and basal shoots.
The general rule when pruning roses is that the more you prune, the larger the flowers. Rose plants that receive less pruning may produce more flowers but they can be inferior quality and smaller in size.
Many gardeners fear rose pruning, simply because different roses require different methods of pruning. Pruning time and the extent of pruning can also differ widely depending on the types of rose. Floribunda need only light pruning in order to flourish, however, the large-flowered, Hybrid Tea rose requires vigorous pruning to maintain its showy bloom.
Winter rose pruning
For best results, rose pruning should take place in winter when the plant is in its dormant phase. Winter pruning should begin when the autumn leaf fall is complete and before new buds and leaves begin to appear on the rose plant.
Immature roses that are not fully established should be pruned with great care and should receive less vigorous cutting-back than when you are pruning a mature plant. Leave a number of buds and stems to develop without pruning in the early years.
Prune proportionally in accordance with the size and age of the plant. Normally, leave 4-8 stems but prune more aggressively for a more vigorous variety. With the exception of climbing roses, the harder you prune the more exceptional the ensuing bloom.
Avoid cutting the strongest buds which are located on the middle stems and often sit next to the lushest foliage. Ensure that the remaining buds are facing outward, to achieve outward growing roses. These buds tend to produce the largest and most showy flowers.
Each plant will have a selection of old and new stems. Select those that give the plant the best shape and cut out the remaining stems, particularly those that are old. On older stems, always leave a side shoot and shorten anything new that has grown over the summer.
Summer rose pruning
Summer rose pruning or 'deadheading' as it is commonly known, is the practice of removing fading flowers after the first bloom. Prune the rose flowers before the plant has a chance to produce rose hips, which not only deplete the energy reserves of the plant but also prevent further blooms in a season. Once you cut the first bloom, the rose plant will race to reproduce and you should have another bloom in 6-10 weeks depending on the variety.
In order to continuously bloom over the summer months, you can repeat this practice a number of times until approximately 6 weeks before the first frosts are expected.
Pruning Climbing Roses
Climbing roses have a more winding and softer stem than traditional rose bushes. They can grow at ground level or be used to decorate pergolas, trellis, terraces and climb up walls. They are not self-supporting and produce superior blooms when grown horizontally.
To begin rose pruning, select the vigorous new stems which will produce stronger and more spectacular blooms and isolate these. Then start by cutting back any old wood which may be 3-4 years old. Support the new shoots so that they grow horizontally for best results.
Pruning Standard Rose bushes
First remove excess foliage and cut back the branches so that the remaining branches are approximately 6 inches long. As you trim, bear in mind the aesthetics of the final rosh bush and trim into an attractive shape. Take care not to leave the rose bush too large as this makes it vulnerable in windy conditions.
If suckers are present around the base of the rose bush, remove them to avoid any depletion of nutrients to the important branches of this rose plant.
Pruning Miniature Roses
Miniature rose varieties require minimal pruning and if these rose plants are dwarf varieties, they may require no pruning at all. To keep the nutrients focused, simply remove any dead or damaged branches. If necessary, cut back some of the remaining branches to give the rose plant the desired shape.