Pruning Roses For Winter

Sometimes trimming back and pruning roses for winter is advisable

frozen rose

Fall and spring pruning both have their supporters.

For me, pruning during late winter or early spring will bring the best results to the rose bushes.

Why and when should we then cut the flowers for winter?

Preparing Roses for Winter

After the first frosts or freezes hit your garden, the roses will go to dormant. This is the time to pruning roses for winter, with the exception of climbing roses.

For me, this pruning is just to prepare the roses for winter, not for the regular pruning. I will fulfill the standard pruning task in early spring.

Nevertheless, after a substantial growing period cut down all rose bushes to about half of their height. This will avoid the canes to break over by winter snows or winter whipping.

Tips of caution

  • Do not prune the roses while they are still actively growing and did not go to dormant. This could cause the flowers to develop new tender growth, which could kill the rose when the hard frosts come
  • Never prune when the temperature is below zero. Cutting frozen wood causes the cane to burst right at the cut. That will cause cracks in the remaining wood, which will never heal properly and can damage the cane altogether because of frost

Pruning Climbing Roses for Winter

With established climbing roses, remove entirely any shoots that are badly positioned, and cut out any dead or diseased wood. The basic outline of the rose may not look very different after pruning, but it will ensure that there are plenty of flowers in future years.

Tie or retie all remaining stems to the support structure; I use rose stretch tape for that purpose.

One word to Ramblers:

They do not need a cutting back unless they grow exuberantly. If this is the case, regular pruning ensures that old wood is replaced by vigorous new growth. For winter pruning, I would recommend just to remove laterals, dead and diseased wood.

For further advice how to prune climbing roses check out my page pruning climbing roses.

Pruning Roses for Winter in Warmer Climates

In mild climates such as in California, where no freezing winters occur, roses do not need a severe pruning as suggested before.

The task should take place from late December to mid-February.

  • Remove all infested branches as well as dead and weak growth
  • Keep as many primary canes as the bush can handle, just remove laterals which can damage another cane
  • Hybrid teas or Grandifloras should not be pruned down below 2.5 feet unless you remove the whole cane
  • Remove all remaining leaves from your roses and dispose all the drop to the dump; not to the compost pile to avoid fungus spores and insect eggs can cause problems in the following growing season

› Pruning Roses for Winter
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