The Q&A Archives: Pruning Roses

Question: I live in Eastern Ky. I bought a house last fall that has several huge rose bushes in the yard. They are about 8ft tall with only about 5 limbs on each. When and how should I prune them to make them fuller, and much shorter.

Answer: Pruning roses can be confusing because different varieties require different treatments. In the case of your overgrown roses, 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. In young roses, save about 3-5 canes. For older plants, you can save more. Lastly, cut the canes back by one-third to one-half. Make your cuts about 1/4" above an outward-facing bud, to allow the center of the shrub to remain open. This will promote good air circulation and help keep your roses healthy. New growth will appear at and below your pruning cuts. Prune now while the roses are still dormant.

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