How to Prune Roses



Hybrid tea, old-fashioned and climbing roses shoul be pruned right before the leaf buds break. An exception to this time frame is the old-fashioned roses that flower once each growing season, such as Damasks and Mosses. These varieties bloom on old wood and should be pruned in the summer after they have flowered. Roses come in many forms, but whether you are growing  a hybrid tea or an old fashioned climber, pruning is basically the same for each type. Here are some guidelines that will help ensure beautiful blooms.


The Right Cut: For the best results you should make your cuts at a 45 degree angle, about 1/4 inch above an outward facing bud. The plant will now direct  energy to this top most bud for producing a new stem. The position of the bud on the cane indicates the direction of the new growth. By carefully selecting which bud becomes the stem producer you can dictate the shape of the rose. Ideally, you want the rose bush to grow out, but in some cases you may want it to develop in a certain direction. This is especially true of climbing roses you want to train to grow up a trellis or over an arbor.


How to Prune: Begin by removing dead and diseased wood. Small stems can be cut back with your hand pruners, use loppers on larger canes.


The next thing to do is remove any large, old canes. Cut the old canes at the base of the plant. Old canes will be gray and rough textured. For the best result, use your pruning saw and cut the cane flush with the bud union.


Once the plant is cleaned up, take a close look at its form. Pick out 3 or 4 of the strongest canes and remove the others.


Now cut back about 1/3 of the top growth and any crisscrossing stems to promote good air circulation. The rule of thumb is to take out stems that are smaller than the diameter of a pencil.


Remove any leaves left on the plant from last year. This will help prevent carrying over black spot and other fungi and pests from one year to the next.


Seal newly pruned stems with a pruning seal or use a white glue such as Elmers. This will help shed water and keep insects from getting into the center of the cane and damaging the plant.


Don't forget to pick up all the sesulting debris, bag it and throw it away.


Please Note: Old fashioned roses should be pruned with a lighter hand than hybrid teas. Simply remove any dead or damaged wood, the top 1/3 of growth, and crisscrossing branches.


Old fashioned roses that flower once each growing season, such Damasks and Mosses, bloom on old wood. These types should be pruned in the summer after they have flowered.