Pruning Roses – What’s All The Fuss?

Pruning Roses

Pruning Roses

Some folk are scared off by the thought of pruning roses, thinking that if they don’t do it right, don’t cut it at the right angle or to an outward facing bud that they’re going to somehow damage their roses. This type of thinking takes the joy out of growing roses.

There are instances where roses just get sheared down yet grow on to be healthy specimens producing masses of flowers.

I was at a rose talk a few years ago at a very well known and popular rose nursery. This nursery grows their own rose plants to sell and the fellow who was giving the talk said that with their roses they just go along and use hedge trimmers to prune them.

The audience, who consisted of a lot of die-hard rose lovers like myself was aghast, but this fellow went on to explain that with the hundreds of roses they grow out in the field they just don’t have the time or man-power for pruning roses individually, and after this shearing prune they come back looking great year after year.

Another example of less than perfect pruning is where local councils use heavy duty hedging shears to annually prune the roses that grow in public areas to save costs. Obviously these roses are more your bush variety rather than your hybrid teas, but even hybrid teas survive a less than perfect pruning.

I’m not recommending that we all start using shears to prune our roses or make a shoddy job of it, but I am trying to make the point that you don’t have to break into a sweat worrying over whether you’ve pruned your roses to the exact specifications of the experts.

I will be writing some more articles about pruning roses the “right” way but if you make a mistake, don’t worry about it. Roses are very forgiving plants – they don’t know or care if you’ve made a cut at the right angle or to an outward facing bud, they just keep on producing flowers regardless.

When I first started growing roses, before I became a horticulturalist, I would get out a rose book and try to follow the directions for pruning roses – trying to cut it at the right angle and to an outward facing bud, and half the time I got it wrong but my roses still grew beautifully. So just remember if it’s not done perfectly don’t stress.

With every annual pruning you will become more confident and get a better feel for how to go about it and realise that you can’t really go wrong, even if you don’t do a ‘perfect’ pruning job..

7 Comments so far

  1. ej on February 19th, 2011

    when is the best time to transplant roses?????

  2. admin on February 19th, 2011

    Hi ej
    The best time to transplant a rose is when it is dormant. That’s usually during winter or early Spring. Of course you need to take into account the climate zone you live in. In warmer climate zones you can transplant any time through the winter, however if you live in cold climate zones where the soil freezes over then it would be wise to wait until early spring, when you can work the soil, before transplanting.

  3. Doc Porter on April 20th, 2011

    When is the best time to prune rose bushe?. Can I cut them back now?

    Thank you!

  4. admin on April 21st, 2011

    Hi Doc
    It depends where you live in the world. In general, for warm districts of the world, mid winter to very early spring is best, and in cooler climates, leave pruning until spring, after the last hard frosts. To get the ideal time for your particular location, either go to your local plant nursery and ask them or ring a local garden club or rose club and ask them. That way you will get knowledge based on local hands-on experience, which you can’t beat.

  5. Dabbie on August 26th, 2011

    Hi, just want to say thanks for this article. It is great that you do not over dramatize the pruning of the rose. Better encourage people to experience the joy of growing their own roses, than scare them by talking about how hard it is to prune them! Everyone can grow roses, even if they never will be experts! Thanx!

  6. David Galea on March 31st, 2012

    Have somw beautiful red roses and Puple roses which i bought several years ago, want to regrow these, is there a way when prunning down and cutting off large steams to regrow these. I was told by a neighbour the if i did and put them into water until the roots came from the bottom and replanted them into soil, they would grow . Is this right as i can not seam to grow them back, have tried the last couple of years with no success. Thanks David

  7. admin on April 1st, 2012

    Hi David
    what kind of roses are they? If they grow on their own roots then your cuttings will have a better chance of ‘taking’ than cuttings taken from roses that have been grafted onto root stock as the root stock often has traits that the grafted rose doesn’t ie hardiness, strong root development etc and that’s why they have been grafted onto rootstock in the first place. Having said that why not give it another try and see if they take.

    Here’s how to go about taking your cuttings. You can take the cuttings from the annual winter/early spring prune and also try some cuttings taken from summer pruning/deadheading to see if they “take” It’s all about experimenting to see which you have the most success with. I am going to take some cuttings from a beautiful hot pink rose with the most superb fragrance that I haven’t been able to identify as yet and see how I go using both winter pruning wood and summer pruning wood to see which seems to ‘take’ better.

    Make your cuttings 6-8 inches long, remove leaves from the bottom half of the cuttings, dust the base of each of them with some rooting hormone powder (lightly tapping any excess off) make a hole in the soil or potting medium with a pencil about half the length of the cutting and stick the cuttings in to about half their length.

    The cuttings can go either straight into a garden bed that has well drained soil and doesn’t get hot afternoon sun or into a pot where you’ve got a mixture of 50% sand and 50% good quality potting mix (or peatmoss) that has been well combined. Press the soil around them genty and water them in gently. Keep the pot in a partially shaded area to start with moving it into more sun gradually and keep the mix damp but not too wet. Don’t let the cuttings dry out.

    It can take up to 12 months for some rose cuttings to develop a strong sturdy root system so wait until the cuttings are well established before planting them out if you’ve grown them in a pot.

    I haven’t heard of roses developing roots from just sitting in water, maybe some of the older shrub roses might but I doubt modern roses would. Why not try putting some cuttings in water and see what happens.

    Good luck with your cuttings and let me know how you go with them.

Leave a reply