How Should I Prune Roses?

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  • Written By: O. Wallace
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2020
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Any good gardener knows that aggressive, smart pruning of a rose bush will pay off in a bumper crop of beautiful blooms all summer long. April is the perfect time of year to rejuvenate your rose bush with a "prune-up" to get it ready for the summer growth cycle. After the dormancy of winter, roses need the green light to start new growth. When you prune roses, you remove old and damaged wood to promote new, healthy growth. Every rose bush owner should learn how to properly prune roses.

The purpose of pruning roses is to encourage a healthy plant, shape the rose bush, and encourage blooming. Pruning encourages new basal growth, which is the growth of new canes, or thick branches, from a bud union. Pruning also opens up the plant to better air flow, reducing the chance of infection by opportunistic fungal diseases.

What are the tools needed to prune roses? First and foremost, experts agree that a good pair of very sharp pruning shears is essential for making clean, healthy cuts. A dull pair of shears will damage the plant by inflicting unnecessary trauma when cutting.


A pair of long handled pruning shears will help with thicker canes and will also help you avoid hacking away with a pair that's not up to the job. Some experts also recommend a small wire brush to brush away dead bark from the rose bush. Finally, because every rose does indeed have its thorn, a good pair of thick skinned gloves will help you avoid getting pricked.

Most experts agree that pruning a rose bush is not for the faint of heart. You must cut away all the dead or damaged canes and not be afraid to go until you see white wood in the center of the cane. Choose canes that are redundant, cross another cane, are smaller than the diameter of a pencil, or are withering or discolored. Cut at a 45 degree angle about a quarter inch(.64 cm) above a dormant bud eye that is facing away from the center of the plant. Angle the cut down and away from the center of the bud eye. Cutting at this angle allows the plant to heal in the best way.

After making the cut, you can seal it with a little white glue, which will discourage insects from boring into the plant. Look around the base of the plant for suckers, which grow up from the roots. Cut these off at the base. After pruning, mulch generously and make sure that the plant gets plenty of water to further encourage new growth. A good pruning will be rewarded with new, hearty growth and abundant blooms later in the spring and summer.


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