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The Home Depot

How Often Should My Roses be Pruned?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Landscaping > How Often Should My Roses be Pruned?
How Often Should My Roses be Pruned?

Those roses you planted and pampered with tender loving care have responded with vigor. They’re flourishing and blooming to provide a beautiful spectacle in your landscape. But wait – the work’s not over. To keep your lovely roses happily growing and blossoming, they will need ongoing care to ensure that they stay healthy and strong.


Your next question may be about the frequency of pruning your roses will need. The bottom line of growing roses is that these beauties need ongoing care throughout the entire growing season, including careful pruning at just the right times to encourage the most beautiful display of blossoms. Once you know the exact schedule of pruning for your roses, you can get ready for healthy and vibrant roses.

  1. 1.The Why

    Healthy and robust rose bushes need strength. Those beautiful and bountiful blossoms are heavy, so the stems that hold them can’t be wimpy and weak. By pruning your rose bushes regularly, you encourage them to become stronger. The upside of this process – with strong plants, even your blossoms will tend to be bigger, which means that the stems will need to be strong enough to support them.


    Weak and diseased stems are an inevitable occurrence with growing roses. Regular and careful pruning will ensure that you remove unhealthy parts of the shrub so that disease won’t spread throughout the entire plant.

    Pruning is also important for keeping roses from developing mildew or fungus, which happens if a shrub becomes overgrown and airflow and sunlight diminishes in the center of the plant. By removing overgrowth in the center of a rose bush, you keep the plant healthy because airflow reaches every part of the plant.

  2. 2.The When

    For best results, prune a rose bush before it begins actively growing again during the growing season. Late winter or early spring, after the coldest temperatures of winter end and before the rose shrub wakes up to begin growing, take care of all pruning tasks. This will ensure that any frosts that occur won’t be severe enough to damage freshly pruned parts of the rose bush. Examine a rose bush carefully before you prune to ensure it’s time to prune. If you see developing buds on the plant, it’s safe to begin pruning.

  3. 3.Choose Your Equipment

    Some of the most important equipment will be protective gear to protect you from the sharp thorns on rose bushes. Wear special gloves designed for pruning roses that will prevent thorns from piercing your skin. Wear long sleeves and long pants to protect your arms and legs as well.


    Rose pruning requires tools with a bypass heads to ensure that you make clean cuts on the stems. For stems and branches less than 1/2-inch in diameter, use bypass hand sheers for pruning. For stems and branches thicker than 1/2 inch, use bypass loppers.

  4. 4.Pruning Magic

    Approach pruning with a systematic and organized method to ensure beautiful results. Examine the entire shrub to determine exactly what it needs before you make any cuts. Once you decide what shape you want for your rose bush, make a plan for pruning.


    Cut away the unhealthy, weak and dead stems from the rose first. Not sure which ones need to go? Just look for any stems that appear black and shriveled and cut all these ones away. If you find stems that appear unhealthy on the tips but healthier near the base of the plant, cut away the diseased part by removing it at a bud union.


    Choose between four and six principle stems that will make up the body of the rose bush. These should be the healthiest and most vibrant stems of the plant. Create the shape you desire for the plant by pruning these stems. Leave each stem up to 4 feet in height, but shorter is fine.


    Remove any suckers growing around the base of the rose bush by cutting them off flush at the base of the plant or flush with the soil level. Suckers divert important plant energy away from the main plant, so it’s important to remove them to conserve energy. Always discard any leaves and stems you prune away, never leaving this debris near the rose bush. Leaving old growth on the ground around the plant may contribute to disease and mildew problems on the shrub.

  5. 5.Ongoing Pruning

    With an early and careful pruning job, your rose should reward you with beautiful blooms. Go ahead and cut some blooms off the plant if you want to enjoy them indoors.


    After any blooms left on the shrub fade, cut them off to deadhead the blooms. The best place to cut to remove spent blossoms is above a bud union. Careful attention to pruning throughout the growing season will keep the rose healthy, beautiful and it may even promote more blooms. Once you learn the care routine for roses, the process becomes easier because you’ll just be repeating it season after season. The majority of the pruning occurs just prior to the growing season with clean-up pruning necessary to keep the rose looking beautiful and growing well during the growing season. With careful steps to protect your rose during the winter, insulating roots, crown and above-ground growth, your rose should remain beautiful and healthy for many years. Visit the Redbeacon website for additional gardening tips for beautiful roses.

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