The Q&A Archives: When can I prune my rose bush?

Question: I have a beautiful 4 year old rose bush that has grown very tall. I want to cut it, but I don't want to damage it. When is the best time to do it? What if I want to use part of that to plant new bushes? It's my first rose bush (that survives I should say...)

Answer: Prune in early spring to keep hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses vigorously growing and blooming. Just as new growth starts, remove any dead or damaged wood back to healthy wood and make each pruning cut at an angle 1/4" above an outward facing bud. This stimulates growth away from the center of the plant. Cut out all the old wood, but leave 3-5 healthy canes, and cut them back by a third or one-half. New flowering stems will develop from these canes. When you cut rose blooms, you can cut as much stem as you want, but make sure to leave two sets of five leaflet leaves on the stem below the cut, so they can continue to feed the stem. Some roses bloom only once a year and some roses put on a continual display all season. If yours is a floribunda, you can expect roses all summer long.

Roses are generally grafted onto a hardy rootstock so while you may be able to propagate your rose by inserting the cuttings into soil, the resulting plants may not grow well for you. You can certainly try, though. Use 6" cuttings from the tips of your prunings, dip the cut end in rooting hormone and put them into moistened potting soil. Keep them watered regularly and they may root. If so, plant them in a sunny location. Best wishes with your project!

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