Rose bush pruning doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating. Rose bushes need to be pruned in a special way, so you should make pruning more efficient with these tips to prune roses correctly.

Roses have a reputation for being difficult to grow, however as long as you maintain and prune them properly, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with these well-known flowers.

Tips for pruning roses properly

Pruning is a vital element in the care of rose plants and the longevity of the plant . In general, you will prune rose bushes just before the plant breaks dormancy after the last spring frost. This will be early in the year in hot climates, and anytime between January and April in cold climates.

When you prune roses, cut off the dead leaves first, it will help you “see” the shape of the plant without distraction. It is a good idea to visit a public rose garden and find specimens of roses that you are growing, this will help you see how the gardeners have pruned them.

In cold winter climates, pruning roses in spring often comes down to one option: simply cutting back or having them dried over the winter. In hot climates, pruning can be done at any of three levels, depending on the purpose.

Severe pruning (cut to three or four canes, 6 to 10 inches tall) produces fewer but larger flowers. Moderate pruning (five to 12 canes cut to 18 to 24 inches) makes the bush larger. And light pruning (less than a third of the plant is thinned out) increases the number of short-stemmed flowers that will be produced.

What tools will we need to prune the roses?

Invest in a high-quality pair of pruning shears with both curved blades . (Those with a flat “anvil” on a blade tend to crush the stems, not cut them.) This is a tool where price really makes a difference.

In some cases a saw or handsaw will be necessary to remove large woody canes, these tools will give you a clean cut without damaging the joint of the shoot.

Finally, buy a good pair of strong leather gloves or gloves that are puncture proof. Now, you are ready to start pruning roses.

Why is pruning recommended?

These are some of the advantages of pruning rose bushes.

  1. Health:   Dead or damaged branches of any rose should be cut back in late winter or early spring before the plant resumes growth. Remove diseased branches when you find them, this improves air circulation by eliminating the canes that grow in the center of the plant.
  2. Control:  Some roses grow with wild abandon. Trimming rose bushes removes diseased and dead stems and canes and reduces overall plant size. Keep them within limits by pruning their tips or whole canes at any time. Cooler afternoons produce poorly shaped, mottled flowers and yellowish foliage that often begins to fall off. Rose hips, which can interrupt the next flowering cycle, can result if the already dried flowers are not removed.

How to prune roses?

  1. Make your pruning cuts at a 45-degree angle , about 1/4 inch above the axis of a leaf.
  2. In the spring time, value your plant and take into account both its natural shape and the overall health of its leaves, stems, and flowers. The next thing you should do is find the dry and dead branches in the center of the plant, cut them and open the center of the plant to allow the circulation of light and air.
  3. Eliminate dry and diseased branches. Follow the dry branch until you find a healthy or green end. Cut it at a 45 degree angle, taking care to expose the white interior. If when cutting you discover that the inside of the branch is not white, you should look for a cut lower, since that part is not yet healthy.
  4. Eliminate thin stems, as they will not grow very well and will produce few flowers.
  5. Prune new growths, do this carefully and taking into account the shape you want to give the plant. Make clean cuts at a 45 degree angle, approximately 50 cm above a bud that is facing the outside of the plant.

Once the pruning is done, remove the remaining foliage from the canes and clean the debris from around the shrub. Discard all the foliage and don’t use it in the compost heap.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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