Pruning Roses Made Easy

The most difficult but the most fruitful part of rose care is pruning roses

Don't worry, as always I will explain this important part of rose care in an easy and understandable way.

Pruning roses is a topic widely discussed, but few have the heart to approach the subject. Many sources discourage from pruning and recommend a natural growing for roses.

The plants will grow, but with fewer flowers, imperfect leaves and in addition we will get poorly shaped plants standing with naked feet in our gardens. Unfortunately, the plants will be vulnerable to diseases and pests too.

I could continue with some more arguments, but to put it in a nutshell:

  • Only the annual performed pruning will bring floweriness, health and longevity to your rose plants.
  • Sick and drafty wood must be removed from the rose bush  

General Pruning Guidelines 


Always use clean and sharp rose pruners, shears and other tools on your roses

Regardless from diverse rose types you should perform the following general pruning procedures:

  1. Prune canes with frost damages and injuries to the healthy wood and those with sickness or where overwintering forms of pests are located (e.g. black eggs of the aphid)
  2. Thin shoots that can’t hold the florescence in summer should be pruned back heavily.
  3. Thin or unnecessary side shoots are cut off to their base. (Branches smaller than pencil in diameter)
  4.  Prune out crossing branches. The weaker is cut out in favor of the stronger. They will scar their neighbors and cause injuries where pathogens can enter the wood.

Rule of thumb

Heavy pruning = strong new growth; Weak pruning = weak new growth

Identify the Age Of The Rose Shoots

It is always beneficial to keep shoots with different age on the plants. Before pruning the roses, let’s identify the age of the shoots:

  1. Color of the bark epidermis: A young shoot will have light-green to light-red color; a one-year old shoot will be dark green to light brown and the bark of perennial shoots will be gray to dark-brown, usually slightly cracked.
  2. The development of bud eyes: Until three years old shoots, it is easy to identify the bud eyes. But for 3-7 years old shoots the visibility of the bud eyes disappears and they degenerate. For the pruning you may search for a “Sleeping Bud Eye,” usually a tiny dark spot. The leaf scar position will be more visible in a horizontal slash.
  3. Color of the shoot’s core: With young, one-year old shoots the core will be white, soft and spongy, covered by a thin bark. As the shoots age, the core will be smaller and his color will be brownish. With perennial shoots you usually can find a thin, dark-brown band.

For the pruning of roses it is essential to know the age of your shoots, to balance the pruning in the correct way.

To make it tricky: different sorts of roses need a different mix of younger and older shoots.

Pruning Different Types Of Roses

The general pruning guidelines above apply to all roses but now it is time to get more into detail.

Let’s talk about the widely discussed question how to prune Once-Blooming Roses.

General recommendation in several sources: It is not necessary to prune once-blooming roses. That would be the easy-rose-gardening way too, but I have a slightly different approach to that topic.

Read about my personal opinion for once-bloomers separately and how to prune the different types of roses on the following pages.

Pruning Roses - Types Of Roses

           Pruning Climbing Roses

           Pruning Tea Roses

           Pruning Shrub Roses

Pruning Roses - The Guides

               Pruning rose bushes

               When to prune roses

               How to prune roses

               Deadheading - Pruning in Summer

               Pruning for Winter            

› Pruning Roses

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