Your Rose Bush Pruning Guide

Rose bush pruning is a valuable part of your rose care routine. But there are likely as many opinions on how to go about pruning as there are types of roses that require it.

Rose experts have their favorite "tried and tested" methods, but this is for those who have no idea where to start. As your confidence grows you will modify these techniques and develop some new ones of your own.

Rose pruning can be easier than you're dreading. In fact, there are only four basic rules and a couple of common sense ones. If you keep these basic rules in mind when you pick up your rose pruning shears, you'll be rewarded with lovely rose bushes that reflect the care that you put into them.

The Four Basic Rules

  1. Always keep the middle of your bushes free of growth. This leaves insects nowhere to live, and allows good air circulation helping to keep down fungal infection.
  2. Always remove any dead or decayed growth. This keeps your bushes looking better and again, keeps insects away.
  3. Shape your rose bushes as they grow. This transforms your bushes from wild and messy to precise and proper like all good roses.
  4. Remove crossing branches to promote stronger growth.

A Couple Of Common Sense Rules

Types Of Rose Bush Pruning

Hard Pruning - cut canes back to 3 or 4 buds from the base. This gives strong canes of about 4 to 5 inches in length. Do not hard prune with established bushes because they may not regrow. The only exception is as a last-ditch effort to revive sick or neglected bushes. This technique is best with grandiflora, new hybrid tea, and floribunda roses.

Moderate Pruning - cut strong stems back to about half of their length. Weaker stems may be cut back even more. This technique works fine with established gardens of hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, and tree roses.

Light Pruning - Cut the canes back to around 2/3 of their length. Any remaining stems can be lightly trimmed back. Light pruning is not generally recommended for most bushes as it tends to produce early blooms and poorly developed flowers. Use this technique only if other types of rose bush pruning are failing and the bush is an eyesore to begin with.

Rose Pruning Videos

Pruning Roses Video - quick 2 minute pruning video to get the basic ideas.

How To Prune Roses Video - longer 4 minute video explaining how to prune your roses bushes for a better presentation.