The Q&A Archives: Pruning Roses

Question: How should I prune my long-stemmed rose bushes?

Answer: Pruning roses can be confusing because different varieties require different treatments. It sounds like you have hybrid teas or grandifloras, which are the best varieties for long-stemmed flowers. You do need to prune these more heavily to encourage bigger flowers. Here are the basics: In the spring, 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. If your roses are just a couple of years old, save about 3 to 5 canes. Save more on older plants. Lastly, cut the flowering canes back by one-third to one-half. Make your cuts about 1/4-inch above an outward-facing bud.

Cutting long-stemmed flowers for indoors is also a part of pruning. Cut so that you've a long enough stem for a vase but don't remove too many leaves: Try to leave at least two 5-leaflet leaves on the remaining stem. Therefore the ideal place to cut is just above an outward growing bud and/or the uppermost 5-leaflet leaf.

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