ROSES PRUNING TIPS
Authorities do not agree on any one rule for rose pruning except that all roses should be kept young by cutting back old nonproductive canes.
Most roses bloom on wood that is not more than two years old. The roots may be old but the foliage above ground should be kept young.
Pruning opens the plant up so that light reaches the inside branches and “bud union” at the base of the plant. More and healthier branches are produced if the bud union gets plenty of sunlight.
Roses generally bloom in summer but should be pruned late winter/early spring just as the buds appear. This can vary from late January to March depending on the area of the country you are in. Prune too early and you will cause early growth that is vulnerable to frost damage. Prune too late and you will waste energy the plant already put into making the buds and leaves you remove. The best time is after the last frost when buds are beginning to swell.
Easy cutting, quality garden shears and heavy garden gloves are a must because most roses have very sharp thorns.
First prune out any dead, diseased or frost damaged canes. Dead wood looks brown and is dry inside when cut. Prune all canes back to wood that is living as seen by the green outside color and creamy white inside.
Remove any canes that cross by cutting off at the center of the plant. A vase shape is the ideal for most rose bushes and allows light to get to the bud union.
Old canes should be cut back to where young, green wood is showing. A dead cane that is brown or black from top to bottom should be removed at the bud union. Cut back to an outward facing bud and leave no stubs. Make the cut 1/4 inch above a bud facing outward. Trim back to three to six canes around the bud union.
The canes should be trimmed to no more than 30 inches high on a mature shrub, unless you want a taller plant. For a few large blossoms, remove more canes and cut the remaining ones lower. If you want more, smaller blossoms, prune lightly.
Not all roses are pruned the same. Here are some general guidelines for several popular types.
Teas and Hybrid Teas - Bloom on new wood each year. Consequently, all old wood should be removed each spring, back to 5 or 6 inches above the winter soil mound.
Hybrid Perpetual - Blooms on new shoots from the previous year’s stems. Prune when used as a bedding plant, 10 to 15 inches in the spring.
Floribundas and Polyanthas – Bush roses producing clusters of blooms from early summer to late frost. They should be pruned lightly, thinning out all dead and surplus wood in the late fall.
Ramblers – Small-flowered climbers bloom on one year old wood. Canes that have flowered should be removed. The current year’s young canes produced from the base should be saved and trained to bloom the following season.
Climbing Roses – Large flowering type bloom on older canes, it is not advisable to remove all the canes that have flowered. Side shoots which have flowered can be cut back and all worn out canes removed.
Flower Cutting - Pruning principles should be kept in mind when picking roses to encourage additional flower production. The stem should be cut just above the second leaf joint, leaving only two groups of leaves below the cut on each branch. New growth will start from these leaf joints. Carefully spaced pruning when picking stimulates flower production.