Even the thorny rose needs a bit of love and care. This detailed guide will tell you when and how you need to prune your roses.

When should I prune roses?

The best time to prune most roses is at the end of the dormant season in your area, just before new growth begins and as the buds begin to swell. In mild climates this may be as early as December or January; in colder climates it may be as late as May. Wait until you are sure that all danger of hard frost is past, or newly pruned tips may be killed.

This rule does not apply to climbers, ramblers, and weeping standards. Climbers are best given a light pruning when they finish flowering and again in the spring. Ramblers are best pruned after flowering, as are weeping standards (which are ramblers grafted onto tall stems).

 

How to prune

To make a pruning cut, use strong, sharp pruning shears to cut the stem cleanly, leaving no ragged edges. Cut no more than a quarter inch above an eye or a growth bud. Angle the cut so that it slopes slightly back and away from the bud.

The bud should face outward to allow growth to spread from the centre and keep the bush uncrowded. This applies to all roses except ramblers and climbers, which must be encouraged to grow along a support, and prostrate types, which are trained along the ground.

To prevent damage, do not cut too close to the bud. Alternatively, if the cut is made too high above the bud, the stem may die back.

If 2 growth buds develop at the same point after pruning, pinch out the weaker one. This must be done carefully with your thumbnail or the point of a clean, sharp knife.

When removing a complete stem, cut as close as possible to the parent stem with pruning shears; then trim the stump flush with the stem, using a sharp knife.

Do not try to cut thick stems with pruning shears. Instead, use long-handled loppers for a good, clean cut. For old hardwood use a narrow-bladed pruning saw. Saw cuts should be pared clean with a knife.

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