The Q&A Archives: Rose Pruning

Question: I'm new to growing roses this year. When and how often do I prune them, and am I suppose to cut the flowers when you bloom or leave them on the vine? Can you recommend a tool to use?

Answer: To remove the spent roses, or "deadhead", simply cut back the flower stem to just above the first leaf with five leaflets. This will make the bush look neater and encourage it to rebloom sooner if it is a reblooming type of rose.

Unfortunately, the answers to your question on pruning depend on which type of rose you have. There are different classes of roses and they are treated differently for pruning and for winter care. In addition, some roses bloom only once in spring and others cycle in and out of bloom all summer. Without knowing which variety you have, it is impossible to give you a specific answer.

You might want to look at a good basic reference book on growing roses. Besides giving lots of general pointers, it will show you in illustrations how to prune. This is much easier than trying to learn it by reading a description! An excellent book is Roses for Dummies by Lance Walheim and the Editors of The National Gardening Association, ISBN 0-7645-5031-4.

There are different schools of thought on just the right pruners, but I prefer the anvil type pruners. Some gardeners prefer the bypass type. Whichever you use, make sure they're clean and sharp, and always cut at an angle so water will drain away from the cut.
Good luck with your roses!

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