How To Prune Roses

Take the mystery out of working with roses and learn the correct way how to prune roses.


After cutting out the dead and sick wood, as I recommend in my general pruning guidelines, you will get a clearer picture of your roses.

Don’t forget to remove any suckers from the root. They may look healthy, but are much inferior to ordinary rose shoots.

The next step is to search for the bud eyes where the cut should be made. What is a “bud eye?”

A bud eye on a rose is the area on the stem where the growing of a new shoot occurs.

You will always find several bud eyes on the canes. Dormant bud eyes, above leaves or leaf scars, sometimes are harder to find on older canes.

How To Prune Roses: The Cut 

Pruning should always be made ¼” above an outward-facing bud eye in a slanting cut. The reasons are:

  •  The rose will direct her growth to the bud closest to the cut
  • Cutting at an angle away from the bud prevents water from collecting at the end of the canes and reduces danger of rotting.
  • Choosing an outward-facing bud eye makes sure the new growth is directed away from the center.

Do not leave cane-stumps and cut dead wood back until the wood is healthy and green-colored.

Tools For Pruning

The reason I want to talk about the pruning tools here is, because I always observe the use of old, rusty not sharpened pruner saws and shears.

Roses are sensitive to pressure, especially one-year old shoots which consist of a thin bark and a soft core.

To avoid unnecessary injuries we need proper cutting tools. The blades need to be sharpened and fine-tuned that there is no gap between the blades. Apply oil regularly to the moving parts.

To work on the roses with perfect tools is much easier and squeezing-injuries or cutting-injuries can be prohibited.

Please always keep your tools clean, some gardeners even disinfect their tools, before pruning their roses.

Strong and old canes shouldn’t be pruned with shears but with prune saws. The position of the saw-teeth must not be too broad, because that would cause injuries on the canes.

Who wants to do a good pruning-job must keep his tools in best condition and should only work with the best equipment.

Practical Pruning 

That will lead us to the question how to execute the cut of the roses now. That will depend on the various types of roses, which I will explain in the following chapters.

Where To Go Next

Pruning Climbing Roses

Pruning Tea Roses

Pruning Shrub Roses


› How To Prune Roses

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