How To Prune Your Roses

How To Prune Your Roses

Winter Rose Pruning

All roses need pruning in the winter but don’t be afraid to prune hard on growth! Books, TV programmes and traditional advice will often state that you should prune roses in March, but this advice is over 100 years old when UK winters were much harder. Pruning this late will remove new shoots and delay flowering by a further 6 weeks! If you live in the UK midlands or south, do your main pruning in November or December. If you live in the north of the UK, do your main pruning in January or February. 

Prune Off Dead, Week & Brown Wood

Prune Off Dead, Week & Brown Wood

Prune on a frost-free day and cut off any thin and weak spindly growth, alongside browning stems or dead wood. This will leave behind the stronger and thicker stems with an even and well-balanced framework.  

Prune Back Main Growth

Prune Back Main Growth

To prune back the main growth, make a clean outward facing cut just above the leaf with a clean and sharp pair of secateurs (we recommend Felco No.2 secateurs). This will allow the rose to grow outwards and help prevent disease. Prune growth by at least 50% to the recommended heights shown below, this is with the exception of Climbers and Ramblers. 

Remove the Older Stem Growth

Remove the Older Stem Growth

If your rose has any old, gnarly stems, cut them right back to the base of the plant. This will help generate strong new basal shoots, this new growth will then become main stems and help lengthen the rose.  

Pruning Climbers and Ramblers

Climbers and Repeat Rambling roses just need a light winter pruning in its first few years, this will allow the rose to grow to its full and natural height. Leave the main stems and prune off any browning, diseased or dead growth. The rose will produce side shoots with flowers in its later years, these side shoots will then need pruning back each winter to a bud that is 2 inches from where it shoots off the main stem. 

Single flowering Rambling roses can easily grow up to 30ft, therefore they will only require pruning when needed to control its shape. Rambling roses can be left untouched for many years, but it is important to check the plant so any deadwood or dieback can be cut off, if left, this could cause disease to spread and the rose to die. Occasional strong pruning of the growth in winter will certainly help the rose in the long term and give you the chance to remove any deadwood within the plant. 

Recommended heights after main winter pruning:
Front Border/Patio Roses 15 – 30cm / 6 – 12”
Hybrid Tea and Floribunda Roses 30 – 60cm / 1-2ft
Shrub and David Austin English Roses 60 – 90cm / 2-3ft 

How Your Rose Should Look After Pruning