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How to Prune Roses: Pruning Techniques for Your Garden

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Red Rose Bush

Spring fever is setting in and for some it’s time for the War of the Roses. Temperatures are beginning to rise, and my green thumb is itching to get those rose bushes ready for their beautiful bloom season.  Here are a few pruning tips to show you how to prune roses and get your garden looking fabulous this summer.

When to Prune

Timing is key in this process, as pruning too early will lead to damage.  In most states, late February or early March, after the threat of frost, is a good time to prune, but if you’re in a cooler part of the country or a mountainous area, you  shouldn’t prune until a little later than that.  A good indication of when to prune is when the buds begin to swell; then you know you are good to go!

Tools for Pruning

You are going to need a good, sharp pair of pruners.  How to choose with such a large selection?

Assortment of Pruning Shears Available

I recommend a small hand-held bypass pruner for the smaller canes and bypass loppers for the larger ones.  You will also need a good pair of rose gloves or leather gloves to protect your hands and arms from those painful thorns.

Rose Gardener Gloves and Pruners

Basic Instructions

Begin with a general idea of the shape you want.  Remove any dead canes first. Make cuts ¼-inch above a leaf bud, facing outward and at the same angle as the bud. Next, find the suckers, or the new plants trying to grow from the roots.  (These suck all the nutrients from the plant). Take out any canes that are rubbing together to prevent fungus and disease.  Next trim the healthy canes back, leaving two to four feet.  Remove the canes in the middle to increase air flow.  Never cut more than one-third of the plant at one time.  Periodically dip your tools in alcohol to decrease the chance of spreading disease.

Pruned Rose Bush

Once your plant begins to bloom, remove any spent flowers (or dead heads) to encourage new and vibrant growth. To do this make a diagonal cut above the next five or seven- leaf branch on the same stem.  Continue this process during the entire blooming season.

Note:  some varieties of roses, like one-time spring-blooming climbers, are pruned at the end of the blooming season.

You can find more information on How to Prune Trees and Shrubs and many other tips by visiting our How-to Projects for your Lawn & Garden.

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Patricia Brown
More about Patricia Brown

Originally from Brunswick County, Virginia, Patricia Perry Brown is a true Southern Girl. With five years of experience in Blackhawk's Lawn and Garden as well as Grilling departments, Trish loves to talk to customers about Big Green Egg and Weber grills. She can sell 'em AND build 'em and is truly passionate about grilling (yes, she's officially an Egg Head). A once-upon-a-time cake decorator, Trish enjoys baking and doing craft projects. With her diverse skillset, you might find her painting columns in the store, explaining to a customer how to prepare something on the grill or writing her blog, "Cooking with Cliff and Trish". Her constant goal is to be available to her customers with outstanding service and product knowledge, which undoubtedly explains why customers ask for her by name. Trish is the co-owner of T&D Banding, a local cankerworm tree banding service and is a freelance website designer.

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4 responses to “How to Prune Roses: Pruning Techniques for Your Garden”

  1. Dylan says:

    Very nice read 🙂 . I really like the rose bush picture. I was wondering if it would allow me to create a drawing based on the image.

  2. Dylan says:

    Hey, I have an unusual question for you. Would it be ok if you could give me permission to do a painting of the rose bush picture at the top. I would really appreciate it. Please reply back as soon as possible. Thank You 🙂 .

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