The Q&A Archives: When to Prune Roses

Question: I live in Lakewood, CO-when should I prune my roses?

Answer: You can prune your roses now, whether they are still dormant or the buds have begun to swell on the canes. 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 3-5 canes. Save more on older plants. Lastly, cut the flowering canes back by one-third to one-half. Make your cuts about 1/4" above an outward-facing bud. Younger rose bushes do best with light pruning; older, more established rose bushes can tolerate heavy or renewal pruning. Another tip: When it is time for a bouquet, cut the stems just below the uppermost leaf with 5 leaflets. This will encourage better flowering.

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