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How to Prune Roses

Category Garden
Published 3 April 2018

How to Prune Roses

Late winter (February or March) is often a good time for pruning roses. Pruning is essential to getting what you want from your rose garden or plants. When tackling this thorny issue, here are some things to bear in mind:

The aim of pruning is to encourage the rose to produce lots more buds on branches that are spaced correctly while removing branches that cross or have died.

Watch our pruning video
Prune roses
  • Floribundas and English roses can be cut back to four or six buds above last year's cut, but generally cut back to a third-to-a-half of the full stem
  • Cuts should be no more than 5mm (a quarter inch) above the bud and should cut diagonally across, sloping away from the but, so water does not collect.
  • Cut towards an bud facing outward to keep a good shape to your bush, unless your roses are known to spread, in which case you can cut towards inward-facing ones to keep things neat and tidy
  • Keep cuts neater by keeping your secateurs sharp. For larger stems, use loppers or a pruning saw
  • Cut out dead stems and crossing stems, or stems that are under-performing
  • Aim for well-spaced stems that allow free air flow
  • Prune hard to encourage strong and enthusiastic new shoots, however thick and hard old stems at ground level may not regenerate, so be careful
  • Feed all pruned roses with a general purpose or rose fertiliser in spring. Mulch with garden compost or manure.
  • Often preparation is the best solution: Don't plant roses in soil that's grown roses before without treating the soil, nor in soil that's too wet or dry, and keep them well fed.
  • Sucker canes (canes that emerge below a bud or from a rootstock or graft) will suck the nutrients from a rose. Dig down to where they are growing from and pull it off as gently as possible