The Q&A Archives: Pruning Roses

Question: What is the best way to prune my roses, and when and how should I cut them back?

Answer: Pruning roses can be confusing because different varieties require different treatments. Roses growing in your gardening region may not go dormant as they do in other parts of the country. Even so, they should be pruned in late winter or early spring, just as the buds begin to swell. Begin by pruning to 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.

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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