The Q&A Archives: Pruning Large Rose Standard

Question: I have a lovely 7-8 foot rose tree in my British garden. I have not encountered this sort of tree in the United States, and am unsure how to prune it. I have always heard to cut it back by a third in the early spring, but I am afraid I will kill next summer's flowers if i prune it too much. Can you recommend how much to prune it? It fans out from a 2-1/2 or 3

Answer: Many photos show newly planted tree roses or rose standards with a tight ball of branches at the top, like a lollipop. Over time however the goal is to allow the canes to lengthen and develop into an arching, waterfall or shower effect. To some extent how to prune would depend on what type of rose it is, such as a hybdrid tea, floribunda, or once bloomer. (I doubt a once bloomer would be used for this special purpose, and that is the type that would be pruned after it has bloomed rather than in early spring.) An early spring pruning to remove dead, diseased or damaged wood and to thin the center slightly (to allow air and light to reach the center) would not harm any rose. Since I suspect you have a hybrid tea or other repeat bloomer, you might remove from a quarter to possibly a third of the length at most to tidy it up and encourage blooming. Do not cut into old hardened canes and be careful not to accidently nick or otherwise damage the high graft. Enjoy your tree rose!

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