How to Prune Roses

If you love your roses and care for them, then it is only natural to want them to grow as much as possible. Pruning roses isn’t difficult, but it can be intimidating to those who …

If you love your roses and care for them, then it is only natural to want them to grow as much as possible.

Pruning roses isn’t difficult, but it can be intimidating to those who have never done it before.

In this guide, we walk you through all you need to know about pruning your rose bush to keep it healthy and beautiful.

Why prune roses?

Pruning roses makes them stronger and healthier.

By cutting back the suckers, you allow sunlight to penetrate deeper into the plant.

This means your rose bush will be able to direct more energy into producing new flowers next year.

The right time to prune roses

Rose bushes should be pruned twice per year.

In the summer, we conduct a pruning process called dead-heading. This involves finding spent flowers and cutting them off a few centimetres below the flower.

However, in Australia, the most significant prune should take place in the months of June to August. Roses need to be pruned more heavily in winter to encourage strong, new growth in the spring.

In order to maximize blooms and keep your rosebush healthy, you want to prune right after hard frosts have ended in your region.

Required tools

If you’re going to prune roses, you’ll need some tools: gardening gloves, bypass pruning shears or secateurs, and long-handled loppers.

For thicker branches, you may benefit from a pruning saw.

How to prune roses

The first thing you want to do is remove dead wood from the bush. This will encourage new growth and make it look tidy as well.

Look for any branches that are brown and crunchy — these are dead and should be removed immediately.

Don’t worry about cutting them too short; if you’re unsure how far back you should go, err on the side of caution and cut closer to the base of the bush. Rose bushes are hardy plants that can grow back from even the smallest branch.

Find any thin, spindly stems and cut these where they are about 3mm in diameter.

Now, you want to prune any branches that cross over each other. Choose one of each pair, and cut it off at its base where it intersects with another branch (if your bush isn’t crossed, skip this step).

Next, prune any branches that are growing downward or inward toward the middle of the bush.

These will hinder growth; they’ll get in the way of other branches and prevent light from reaching into the centre of the bush. Opening up the middle of the bush will also increase airflow.

Cut these back until they’re flush with a larger branch or at their base.

It’s also important to check for suckers, which are small shoots that grow vertically from the main canes or base of a rose bush.

They often have three leaves instead of five, so they’re easy to spot, but they can also grow in other areas, such as just below a pruning cut or where two branches meet.

These suckers need to be removed completely because they will only ever grow inferior flowers or no flowers at all.

Rose pruning tips

  • Don’t cut more than a quarter of the plant at one time
  • Make sure you have sharp shear, loppers and secateurs
  • Clear the area of debris and sharp sticks
  • Avoid overhead pruning when possible
  • Use clean tools and pots
  • Look out for pests and diseases
  • Examine root health
  • Don’t overwater your roses
  • Pest Check: Are there pests or diseases

For more tips on pruning roses in Australia, check out the below video from Bunnings: