The Q&A Archives: Pruning Roses

Question: I'm a novice gardener and haven't gotten exact advice on how to prune the rose bushes I inherited with my new house. I know nothing about roses so I would appreciate any advice you can give me on the proper way to prune my roses. I'm not sure of the type of roses I have but they are tall and bushy and long stems.

Answer: Pruning roses can be confusing because different varieties require different treatments. It sounds like you have hybrid teas or grandifloras, which are the best varieties for long-stemmed flowers. You do need to prune these more heavily to encourage bigger flowers. Here are the basics: In the spring, remove the dead and damaged canes as far back as necessary. Then, remove any suckers that arise from below the graft union, if there is one (the swelling near the base of the plant). Next, select the healthiest canes (thicker and bright green) and cut off the rest. If your roses are just a couple of years old, save about 3-5 canes. Save more on older plants. Lastly, cut the flowering canes back by one-third to one-half. Make your cuts about 1/4" above an outward-facing bud.

Another tip: When it's time for a bouquet, cut the stems just below the uppermost leaf with 5 leaflets. This will encourage better flowering.

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