The Q&A Archives: Pruning Roses

Question: We have a rose bush that is starting to get very large. What we would like to know is when is the best time to prune and where should we start? The roses continue to bloom all summer long and have a diameter of ~ 2" when in full bloom.

Answer: To some extent this depends on what type of rose you have; hybrid tea roses which bloom in flushes all summer are usually pruned in early spring and then shaped as needed throughout the season. Some of the shrub roses which also bloom all summer can be sheared as needed for shaping in early spring and can be tip pruned as needed during the growing season. For technique, this is a case of a picture being worth a thousand words. You might wish to look at a basic book about rose care. One I particularly like is "Roses for Dummies" by Lance Walheim, ISBN 0-7645-5031-4. In it you will find straightforward pruning instructions including clear diagrams on where to cut as well as general rose care information. In the meantime, if there is one branch that is particularly in the way, go ahead and remove it by cutting fairly deep within the bush -- more drastic heavy overall pruning is probably best left until early next spring unless you are willing to sacrifice a good number of blooms this year.

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