The Q&A Archives: Roses

Question: I have a New Dawn rosebush that is getting enormous and I'm not sure when or how much I can cut it back.
I also have a Mr. lincoln rose bush that has one stem(?) that is much taller than the rest of the plant --can it be cut back this fall?

Answer: Pruning usually encourages new growth which will not be frost-hardy so the best time to prune your roses is in the late winter (around Valentine's Day). The exception is the rogue stem on your Mr. Lincoln rose. I'd cut it off now. Wait until late winter or early spring to do any major pruning. You can rehabilitate old roses by pruning them back hard. Start by reducing the size of the branches so you can get into the center of the rose. Cut everything down to about 24" and then select 3-5 healthy canes to keep: remove all the others. Of those canes you've kept, cut each of them to an outside facing bud where you want the growth to emerge. You should end up with a vase shape with an open center. New growth will come from below the cuts and your rosebush should be full of blooms in the summer. Enjoy!

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