How to Prune a Rose Bush

As soon as you understand the basics of pruning roses, even new gardeners can obtain splendid results.

You should never be intimidated when you think about pruning. You may need long sleeves and thick gloves.

Yet, you can quickly find, with a little effort and expertise, you can have some beautiful and healthy rose bushes that could adorn any exhibition as well as take pride of place in your garden.

Here you can learn how to prune rose bushes, and when the best time of year is to do so.

Guide in Pruning Rose Bushes

When To Prune Roses


Any significant pruning you carry out ought to be in the early spring. You find this time is following the final frost in colder climates.

You can see the regions and possible dates for final frosts. Yet, you can also let your roses indicate this. When they start to bud or show early signs of leaves, it’s time.

  • Region 10 – January 30 or before
  • Region 9 – January 30 to February 28
  • Region 8 – February 22 to March 30
  • Regions 5, 6 and 7 – March 30 to April 30
  • Regions 3 and 4 – May 1 to May 31


If you are wondering when to trim roses, you can cut back any dead flowers on garden roses during the summer. If you think this may harm your plants, it comes from a good source at David Austin Roses.

They state in the flowering season, the process of deadheading encourages more blooms to help preserve appealing shrubs.


Once you reach the first killing frost, you need to trim longer stems so that they won’t snap in harsh winter weather. You need to ensure rose bushes are not top-heavy so they won’t uproot in strong winds.

You also need to trim back any crossed branches that may rub together and cause damage. Remove dead wood or any diseased foliage and branches. Although, it is worth noting that too much rose pruning can stimulate growth, and any new growth can suffer damage in frosty weather.

How to Prune Roses

You may be stunned to learn that modern roses don’t require as much pruning as you imagine. Here are some steps to get the best from your roses.

Remove remaining leaves: Carrying this out, you see the structure of the rose bush and can see the stems (canes).

During this step, you can remove hiding pests or diseases, which may have been lurking over the winter.

Start with any dead growth: You may wonder how you can tell it is dead. Cut into the stem, and if it’s brown, its dead, and green is alive. Cut all these dead bits of wood back to the base.

Open up the center of the plant: Take out crossed branches that will rub. Such rubbing causes damage and encourages disease.

The aim is to obtain upward-reaching branches with a vase-like shape open structure to help with air circulation and reduce pests.

Remove weak growth: If there is any growth thinner than a pencil, it is safe to remove.

Pruning the canes: Prune a rose bush by cutting 1/4 to 1/2 an inch over an outward-facing bud eye. You see these as slight lumps where the leaf will meet the stem.

Any new stems will grow in the direction of the bud, and the aim is to entice them to grow outward facing rather than inward.

Make your cuts at a 45-degree angle and make sure they slope away from the bud. Doing this allows water to run off.

Seal any fresh cuts: Once you make any cuts, you need to seal these to stop cane rot and any rose borers. You will need to purchase a suitable pruning sealer compound.

Clean up: Following pruning, make sure you clean the surrounding areas below the bushes. Remove any leaves or branches as these can rot and introduce disease.

Feed your plants: Roses are big feeders, and you will need to offer them sufficient nutrition. Use a slow-release fertilizer.

Pruning Requirements for Different Types of Roses

Varying Rose Types

You can find many different roses in gardens. However, you can when you come to prune roses, their pruning requirements fall into the following:

Bush Roses

In this section, you can find Hybrid teas, Floribundas, and the English rose variety.

Once you remove any dead, diseased or damaged wood, you need to prune the hybrid tea stems to about three or four buds over where you made the previous year’s cut, and above an outward-facing bud.

If you have Floribundas or English roses, you can prune a rose bush less harshly and make your new cut around four to six buds above the previous year’s cut.

Patio and miniature roses

For these types of roses, the pruning is much the same as for the rose bush variety above. However, tip back any sturdier stems to a distance of 4 to 6 inches for miniatures roses. Increase this a little for patio roses.

On occasions, you may find vigorous shoots coming through, to avoid spoiling the appearance of your plant, remove them and your plant can have a balanced look.

Modern shrub roses

As with bush roses, opening the center is ideal to stop rubbing. However, with shrub roses, it’s essential to create a framework that delivers side shoots to provide healthy flowering ‘spurs.’

Trim the primary stems by about a third, and any side-shoots by up to two-thirds. Thin out 1 or 2 of the older stems if required.

Climbing roses

Climbing roses have two canes, both main and lateral. The main will stem directly from the base and never require pruning. Climbers throw all their energy into growing before flowering, so all this energy concentrates on the main canes.

Lateral canes produce flowers, and pruning encourages blooming. You can carry out climbing roses pruning (lateral) at any time during the year to help keep the climber in a healthy condition.

Read more Gardening Guides

How to Prune a Rose Bush

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