Pruning Roses

Always cut above a dormant eye or bud, since an eye which is in full growth may possibly have been injured by frosts some weeks earlier and it will then produce ‘blind’ or flowerless wood.


Prune first-year bushes of hybrid teas and floribundas towards the end of February or in early March. Those planted from mid-February onward must be pruned immediately before planting; but in most instances the nurseryman will have done the pruning before delivery.

Winter pruning of both newly planted and established roses is often advocated. In a mild winter, December or January ‘pruning may be successful and lead to a slightly earlier first crop of bloom. But if the winter ends with a spell of really hard weather, the premature growths resulting from the very early pruning may be injured, and when summer comes the leaves may suddenly drop off for no apparent reason.

Since the weather is unpredictable there can be no hard and fast rule regarding early pruning; one can only experiment.

Prune new trees severely, to within 6 in. of the bud union, thereby stimulating the production of fresh shoots towards the base of the plant, which will ultimately develop into a well-balanced, bushy tree, rather than a leggy specimen with most of the flowers at or near the top.

On thin, sandy soils, postpone this drastic pruning until the second year, otherwise considerable die-back may-ensue. Wait until early May when growth is well advanced and then remove any dead wood.

Leave newly planted climbers and ramblers unpruned, except to remove any dead wood in February.

Standards (especially standard hybrid teas) dislike drastic pruning at any time. Remove any weak, sappy shoots and cut back the tips of the remainder.


Hybrid teas:

Prune hybrid teas towards the end of February. The basic idea is to encourage the growth of a reasonably open, cup-shaped bush. This facilitates free circulation of light and air, thus reducing danger of mildew, which is stimulated by bad air. As black spot often begins on thin, twiggy shoots near the base, always cut these shoots right out.

Remove any diseased, frosted and obviously exhausted or dead wood. Old wood left for several years tends to harbour fungus spores and insect pests. Frosted wood is generally brown or discoloured and must be cut back to healthy tissue, which is indicated by white or greenish-white pith.

Also remove unripe wood. This is easily identified by gently pressing the thorns on the stem; if the wood is unripe, they will break off only after much effort, but on ripe growth they will fly off readily.

Typical unripe shoots are the basal growths which develop after the end of August. These usually produce inferior flowering growths.

Pruning ‘proper’ is quite simple. Cut back to about half the length of the previous season’s growth. If it is necessary to encourage fresh basal growth in the third and subsequent years, reduce an occasional old shoot to within 3 or 4 in. of its base.


Prune floribundas early in February for the best results. First remove all useless wood. Criss-cross shoots are common and should also be cut right out. Leave the remaining shoots at various lengths to help ensure continuity of bloom.

Cut back some of the previous year’s ripe wood a couple of inches only, reduce other shoots to about half their length and prune the remainder to within 3 or 4 in. of the base.

Ramblers and climbers:

The old type Wichuraiana ramblers and the more modern, late-flowering Crimson Shower flower once only on the previous season’s wood. Tie the new basal shoots in lightly as they appear during late spring and summer.

When the old wood has flowered, cut it away to the base, train the new wood carefully in the desired position and wind the shoots round the post to encourage profuse bloom.

With all other ramblers and climbers cut the tops of the laterals a few inches in late February and cut out an occasional old shoot.

Varieties vary a great deal in vigour and freedom and continuity of bloom, but the general rule is to spare the knife. Climbing sports in particular resent hard pruning. Never allow them to grow upward; train the main shoots fan-wise or horizontally, because most blooms are produced on the laterals. Miniatures: Miniature roses need little pruning. Simply trim the plants to the desired shape and cut back any strong shoots which emerge from below soil level to half their length.

18. September 2013 by admin
Categories: Gardening History, Plant Biology, Top Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Pruning Roses


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