The Q&A Archives: Pruning Roses

Question: I have many rose bushes, so I purchased books explaining care for them. Unfortunately the books contradict one another. One says to prune in the fall the other says early spring. I was going to prune some of them last October, but didn't have time to do it. I'm wondering if they can be pruned in early spring and if so how early? I would also like to know how far back they should be pruned.
Thank-you for your help.

Answer: Pruning roses can be confusing because different varieties require different treatments. Hybrid teas or grandifloras need to be pruned 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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