Rose pruning top tips: When and how to cut back roses
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Roses are a staple of many a British garden. With more than 150 different species and thousands of hybrids, roses can be found in countless colours and shapes, blending in with any garden, wall, trellis or pot for a fragrant pop of colour. But everyone agrees, the key to bountiful blooms is pruning.
So when should you prune your roses?
As a general rule, you should aim to prune your rose bushes in late winter or early spring.
You can check your individual rose profile for more specific timings, but it’s not strictly necessary.
What you want to check for is new growth – once buds or leaves begin, it’s time to get out the secateurs.
Through the summer, you can deadhead your roses at any time.
Deadheading is when you cut back dead flowers, which encourages more blooms to grow.
Into autumn, you can trim long stems back to keep them snapping, but don’t go to crazy on the pruning. Save that for next year.
What you need to prune roses
Before you head out, make sure you have:
- Some hardy gloves
- A thick, long-sleeved shirt or jacket
- Bypass secateurs (avoid anvil secateurs if you can as they don’t offer a clean cut and can end up crushing your stems).
How to prune your roses
1. Remove all remaining leaves
Clear off any old leaves from your rose bush.
This might look a bit sad but it has the dual function of removing any lingering pests and shows you the structure of the bush so you can decide how to prune.
2. Start with the dead wood
Any wood that is brown (not green) right the way through should be cut right down to the base.
3. Remove internal stems
You want to aim for a vase shape, so take away interior stems.
4. Remove thin growth
Anything thinner than a pencil gets the chop
5. Prune the remaining stems
Now you’ve got the basics done, it’s time to prune back the remaining canes.
Prune by cutting 1/4” to 1/2” (about 6-10mm) above an outward-facing bud eye (a small bump found where a leaf would meet the stem).
New stems grow in the direction of the bud and the goal is to encourage them to grow outward, not inward. Make cuts at a 45-degree angle sloping away from the bud, allowing water to run off.
You can try a sealant if you have one on the fresh cuts.
6. Give them a feed
Roses are “big eaters” and need proper nutrition, so feed them with a long-lasting fertiliser.
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