Cutting Roses Back - Knowledgebase Question

Seattle, WA
Question by Markhugs33
September 21, 1998
When should you cut back roses? How much should you cut? I have one rose bush 10 feet tall.

Answer from NGA
September 21, 1998


Roses are not usually pruned in the fall in the Pacific Northwest; we wait until the buds swell in the spring (generally late February or early March). If you prune now, you may encourage new growth, which will be extremely frost-sensitive. If your rose is terribly overgrown, and you're concerned that the stems will be damaged when they whip around in winter winds, tie them together loosely until it's time to prune. Depending upon whether you have a shrub rose or a climber, you can prune in the spring to rehabilitate the plant, and to encourage the growth of new flowering wood. Remove any dead or damaged wood, and cut the remaing shoots back by about one-third. In the summer you can continue to prune, taking stems back to just above a five-leaflet leaf. There's a great book that covers rose pruning with lots of line drawings and easy-to-understand text: Pruning, by Christopher Brickell, ISBN# 0-671-65841-7. It's worth the investment, but you may want to browse through it at your local library first.

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