The Q&A Archives: Pruning Roses

Question: We've had sub-zero temps here lately, but now we're in the 40's (day temps). Is it too late to prune the climbing roses and rose bushes? I didn't get this done earlier this fall, and am wondering if pruning them now will cause damage.

Answer: I would not try to prune the roses now. Most roses can be cut back by about 1/3 in February. If the bush is a "once-bloomer", that is, if it only blooms in spring and does not repeat bloom through the growing season, wait to prune until after it blooms or you will be cutting away all of next springs bloom buds.

Climbing roses are another matter. They also tend to be either "repeat" or "spring-only" bloomers. However, their vigor and your desire for their growth habit (covering an arbor, fan shaped arrangement on a wall, "pegged" to the ground in a spider-like fashion) determine the type and amount of pruning you will want to do.

A final word of encouragement is to not be afraid to prune your roses back. A vigorous rose will quickly respond with plenty of new growth. Most people seem to err in not pruning vigorous growing roses enough, ending up with a dense, thorny mess.

Thanks for the question!

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