When to Prune Roses

Roses are a staple of just about every English country garden as there are so many wonderful varieties to choose from, offering intoxicating displays of stunning flowers. But how do you keep your roses healthy and blooming year after year? The answer is pruning – and for the best possible results, it also pays to know when to prune roses.  

Pruning roses involves removing dead, diseased or dying stems from the plant, which helps improve the overall health of your plant, as well as its appearance. If left unpruned, roses have a tendency to become a bit tall and ‘leggy’, so pruning is essential for encouraging new growth and more flowers and keeping them in good shape.

Top tips for pruning roses are cuts should be made with secateurs about 5mm above a bud and should slope downwards away so the water does not collect on the bud. Cutting to an outward facing bud will also encourage an open-centred shape for the plant. Dead or diseased stems and crossing stems should be pruned back to the healthy white pith. Woody stems which do not produce flowers will respond well to tough love and the plant will thank you for it.

Cutting back the stems should be carried out every year to ensure your roses continue to flourish. Winter is generally the best time of year to prune, but while some varieties benefit from attention in January and February and later into the spring, others should be pruned earlier after the last flowers have faded.

Climbing and rambling roses should be pruned in November, in the late autumn or early winter. Cut back old woody stems to about 12 inches above ground level and thin out crossed stems and congested growth.

The side shoots of climbing roses should also be pruned and should be cut just above the bud, facing the direction you want the new stem to grow. Once pruned, tie any stems to a support so they are in a prime position for flowering next year.

Ground cover, shrub, patio, miniature, floribunda and hybrid tea roses can all be pruned in the later winter months, although pruning back shrub roses to about a third of their size in November is good practice. A good tidy up will provide a neat framework for next year and cutting away any straggly growth will ensure bushes stay in good shape.

Pruning at the optimal time is especially important for shrub roses which are planted in particularly windy or exposed areas as it helps to prevent wind rock which happens when the rose is blown loose where it meets the soil. Tall hybrid tea roses will also benefit from being cut back to protect them from being damaged by heavy winds during the winter months.

For more information and advice on your roses – or other plants in your garden – contact our experts at Poplar Nurseries who will be happy to help.