Welcome to the one rose chore that scares the heck out of most rose growers.
As you probably know there are as many viewpoints on pruning roses as there are rose growers. Most of them complicated and quite frankly intimidating. But, keep in mind those techniques were developed for Exhibition and Cut Flower roses. Pruning Garden Roses is actually quite simple.
Be guided by how you are using the rose in the garden.
Garden Roses come in all different sizes and shapes – like most plants do. How you prune them totally depends on you. That’s right you – and what size and shape you want that particular rose plant to be in your garden in that spot. If you want a tall hedge then prune it tall. If you want a short mass planting then prune lower.
Also keep in mind that by cutting away weak or old growth, you are actually inspiring your roses to put out fresh, vigorous new growth. This natural cycle keeps your roses at their peak.
So don’t think of it as pruning. Think of it as rejuvenating your roses.
We have just a few simple rules of thumb for you:
- Let the way your rose grows determine how you prune. The videos below will better explain what we mean.
- Always start by pruning out dead wood. Why? Because it’s dead and you can’t make a mistake. Gets you warmed up!
- Take out weak or damaged growth. Just trust your gardener’s instincts to recognize branches that aren’t full of vigor.
- Never worry about making a mistake. It’ll grow back.
- With Garden Roses don’t worry about outward facing bud-eyes and five leaflet leaf sets. Just prune to strong, healthy growth at your desired height. And if you don’t know what a five leaflet leaf set or a bud-eye is don’t worry about it. You don’t need to.
- Don’t try to keep a tall rose short. It won’t be happy. If you want a rose in a particular spot to be short than plant a short one!
- Every now and then you will take out an old cane that no longer produces growth and blooms. We label that kind of cane “bloomed out”. Take it out at the ground level and you’ll be amazed at the new growth you’ll see in spring.
- Pruning isn’t just for “pruning season”. Feel free to shape your roses all season long like you would any other plant in your garden.
- In the end trust your gardener’s instincts. You know what you are doing so do it!
We’ve prepared some videos for you and we advise you view you them in order. And as always feel free to ask us a question!
For further reading:
- Read our blog post “When Should I Prune My Roses?“
- Read the article by Gregg Lowery of Vintage Gardens titled Pruning
- Read the post on our blog “Say Goodbye To Pruning Season”
- Read the post on our blog “The Dreaded “P” Word“
- Read Cass Bernstein’s article titled “Pruning Teas My Way – For Coastal Northern California” (It has great tips on pruning Tea roses which are roses that “build a structure”
- Read the post on our blog on stripping leaves after pruning “To Strip – Or Not To Strip“
- For information on pruning climbing roses see the “Climbing Roses ” section on the “Care” menu.
Here are the videos