The Q&A Archives: pruning roses

Question: I have a small potted rose bush and another larger rose planted in the yard, when and how should they be pruned?

Answer: The best time to prune shrub roses is in early spring, just as the buds begin to swell on the canes. Start by pruning everything back to about knee-high. The choose the healthiest looking 3-5 canes and remove all the other canes. On the 3-5 canes you allowed to remain, cut each down to an outward facing bud. This will open the center of the plant up for better air circulation (to help avoid diseases) and will promote healthy new growth. Roses bloom on new stems so after yours have bloomed, cut the flowering stem down to a 5-leaflet leaf and new flowering stems should appear. Your potted rose bush can be given an overall trim now. You can cut it back by about a third and it should produce lush new growth and maybe even some new flowers later in the season.


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