How to Prune Your Roses
Winter Rose Pruning
This really is an easy and simple operation and all roses need pruning in winter and don’t be afraid to prune back growth hard as most types of roses will really benefit from this. Tradition and many books and TV experts state you should do your main pruning in March, however this advice comes from over 100 years ago when UK winters were much harder and global warming had not really began, pruning this late will in many cases simply remove strong new flowering shoots and delay the flowering of your rose by a further 6 weeks, so if you live in the UK Midlands or further South do your main pruning in November or December and if you live North of the UK Midlands do your main pruning in January or February.
Remove Weak, Brown & Dead Wood
Prune on a frost free day, cut off and remove any weak or thin spindly growth, browning stems or dead wood leaving the strong thicker stems in a well balanced and even framework.
Prune back main growth
Further prune down these main stems to an outward facing bud cutting cleanly to just above the leaf with a sharp & clean pair of secateurs. With the exception of Climbers and Ramblers prune growth by at least 50% to the recommended heights below.
Remove older stem growth
Take back any old gnarley stems if present almost back to the base on older roses will trigger new strong basal shoots to emerge which will become main stems and help lengthen the life of your rose.
Pruning for Climbers & Ramblers
Climbers and Repeat Rambling roses only need light winter pruning for the first few years to allow the plant to grow to its full and natural height. Leave the main tied in stems intact and prune off any dead, browning or diseased growth. In later years the main stems produce side shoots with the flowers on and it these side shoots that need pruning back each winter to a bud that is around 2” from where it is shooting from the main stem.
Single flowering Rambling roses can easily grow to 25 or 30ft, and these only need pruning when needed to control the shape, so they can be left untouched for several years if needed but checking and removing deadwood and dieback is always important, otherwise this could become a serious problem and lead to the death of the rose. The occasional good strong hack back of growth in winter will definitely benefit the rose in the long term and give you the chance to remove a build up of deadwood in the rose.
Recommended heights after main winter pruning:
Front Border/Patio Roses 15 – 30cm / 6 – 12”
Hybrid Tea and Floribunda Roses 30 – 60cm / 1-2ft
Shrub and David Austin English Roses 60 – 90cm / 2-3ft
Pruned Bush Rose