How to prune a rose bush

Equipment:

  • Secateurs
  • Long armed pruners (parrot bills)
  • Strong gloves

Before you start:

  1. You are going to get scratched even with gloves on.
  2. Use good quality tools which will give a clean cut and are safer to use.
  3. Cut the stems just above an outward pointing bud. You will see these if you look carefully just above the scar left where the leaves fell off.

Summary:

  1. Traditionally done in mid-winter.
  2. Remove damaged or diseased stems.
  3. Remove any crossing braches.
  4. Remove any very weak stems.
  5. Shorten the remaining stems to one third of their length.

 

  1. Traditionally done in mid-winter.

Traditionally this is done in February in the United Kingdom when the plants are fully dormant but unlikely to be forced into growth too early and be damaged by frost.

  1. Remove damaged or diseased stems.

Any stems that are diseased, pay a particular look out for coral spot, clearly are going to be a danger to the long term health of the plant and must be removed. Make sure you cut out all of the diseased parts. Damaged parts are never going to be viable in the long term but also they provide an easy site of entry for diseases.

  1. Remove any crossing braches.

There are two reasons for this, first you want an open branch structure which is more stable, shows the plant off well and allows the free movement of air through the plant which discourages diseases like mildew. Second where branches cross through the bush soon or later they will end up rubbing against other branches as the plant moves in the wind. This will quickly damage the bark and provide an easy entry point for pests and diseases.

  1. Remove any very weak stems.

These are never going to give you a strong bush which can carry a good show flowers.

  1. Shorten the remaining stems to one third of their length.

By shortening the remaining stems by a third you should balance way you remove with what you can expect the plant to put on in the next growing season.

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