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Pruning Roses: *Easy* Instructions with Photos

Pruning Roses: *Easy* Instructions with Photos.

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Deutsche Version: Rosen schneiden: *Einfache* Anleitung

Pruning Roses: *Easy* Instructions with Photos

Contents
How to prune
When to prune
Why to cut radically and differently than other wood
Why to cut above outward-facing bud
Bush roses and climbers, renewing bush roses


Photo: Pruning roses: That's how you do it | Directly to instruction
Image Date: 2000-02-26 | Photo ID: 2004041083

When pruning roses as well as pruning grapes resp. shrubs, hedges and trees in general, you can make less mistakes in gardening than you would think by the often extensive instructions and drawings referring to this topic.
Once you have realized why you prune when and how, you do not have to turn over books anymore no matter whether you want to prune so called border roses, groundcovers, Hybrid Tea roses, bush roses, wild roses, hedges of wild roses, dwarf roses or standard roses. In the end shrub is shrub.

Normally it is only important to prune regularly, for nearly all roses (except only once-blooming roses, see below) flower on new wood like most flowers that are in blossom during summer and late autumn, and new shoots develop mainly after a strong cut.

Right choice of cultivars: To enjoy roses in full blossom and with healthy leafs from early summer to late autumn you have to see not only to regularly and correctly done pruning but to other cultivation as well - and mainly(!) it depends on the right selection of cultivars, though, for by no means all roses are as robust as suppliers like to promise – see our special page Healthy Roses (List of fungus resistant roses).

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How to prune - Pruning roses & late flowering wood

For most types of roses and other late flowering wood radical pruning in spring is best, cutting back to 3-5 new shoots, not leaving any "hooks".

Theory & Experience...
You would practice this exact instruction only as far as stand-alone roses are concerned which you want to be in full glory during summer. In flowerbeds with plants covering a large area you would cut back the roses when starting new shoots down to 10 (-15) cm. If necessary there could be a second cutting, not quite as strong, after the first main flowering. Often this is also done with bush roses and wild roses which are flowering more than once as for instance Hedgehog (Rosa rugosa). And if you think of public greens or green spaces between roads or even along motorways it could not be done differently than just cutting down radically in spring for economy of time.

Exceptions – pruning hedges of wild roses and just once flowering ramblers
Just once flowering roses, e.g. wild roses and once flowering ramblers (=climbers with soft, overhanging shoots as for instance 'Bobbie James'), are flowering on last year's wood and may therefore only be thinned out carefully in spring! If necessary they should be cut immediately after flowering. Also bush roses and climbers have to be thinned out only if they flower opulently, otherwise they may be cut radically for regeneration like all other roses – see details above at 'Tom Tom', a robust border rose that does not need any fungicides.

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Cutting for flower vases
Best suited are Hybrid Tea roses flowering on long stems.


Hybrid Tea rose 'Tom Tom' with Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis).
Image Date: 2001-07-09 | Photo ID: 2004041076

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Appropriate tools
Use only really sharp secateurs, don't crush or wrench the stem. It is essential for prickly wood to use special gloves and goggles and never cut when in hecticness. Thorns resp. prickles can easily cause wounds that will not heal or even blood poisoning.


Special gloves for prickly wood to be bought at real (EUR 4,50) or ALDI (EUR 0,99). Online: Vileda 10696 Flora Special (medium) *
Image Date: 2000-08-20 | Photo ID: 2005052106

Learning the hard way
For weeks(!) the twig of a rose put the whole of my forearm to complete motionlessness into a splint. The arm to the right, of course! There was only one comfort when spending my days watching TV and being filled up with antibiotics: Howard Carpendale giving even more desperate descriptions of his way to manage toilet problems after having broken both of his arms in a bicycle accident.

In this case the glove shown above would not have been of any help to me, though, as presumably to give better movement there is no protection at the position in question.

By the way: A tetanus shot, which has to be renewed every 10 years, is extremely important and a requirement for any gardener. The spores of this very dangerous germs Clostridium tetani cannot only be transferred by the prick of a rose but are all over the place in the soil. By 25% to 55 % the infection is terminal depending on the age of the person concerned.


Dangerous infection at joint caused by prick of a rose which had to be treated for a long time with injections, antibiotics, ice packs and splint.
Image Date: 2004-11-03 | Photo ID: 2007032301

* Affiliate-Links

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Attention rambler – less is more
When dreaming of a rose garden have in mind that cutting roses is not entirely fun because of the thorns. Especially when heavy growing climbers with overhanging shoots ("ramblers") are concerned pruning in spring can mean real torture – mainly because they even grow exuberantly in sky-high places that are not easy accessible as e.g. a pergola…


If you have to prune ramblers you will soon look at them with mixed feelings.
Image Date: 1999-05-30 | Photo ID: 2004041209

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When to prune

The best time for pruning is early spring when new shoots are developing, for dead twigs are a good protection in winter.
As soon as buds start to swell you can start cutting.


Early Spring
Swelling bud at starting of new shoot. A bud is no prickle! ->Mostly in axilla.
Image Date: 2000-02-26 | Photo ID: 2004041082

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Why to cut above outward-facing bud

Otherwise the shoot will grow inwards.
When having opposite shoots, e.g. with Clematis, Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii): cut straight about 1 cm above bud.


Cut above outward facing bud, not prickle!
Image Date: 2000-02-26 | Photo ID: 2004041083

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Which roses need radical pruning
Strong pruning only with:
- border roses,
- groundcovers,
- Hybrid Tea roses and
- dwarf roses.

Bush roses and climbers have only to be thinned out: Just cut back crossing, too dense growing and inward-facing shoots, dead, weak, damaged and very old stems as well as stems that spoil the overall shape of the rose.


Groundcover rose 'Heidetraum'
Image Date: 2002-07-27 | Photo ID.: 2004041028

Renewing bush roses
Bare-branched old bush roses you would cut down radically just like border roses.

Climbers
Lead strong shoots horizontally as flower shoots tend to develop on them.
Training: During the first years construct a basic framework as to your wishes. After flowering the new sideshoots have to be cut back regularly down to a few buds. If you like, leave deadheads to develop hips.


Training of climbers: Lead strong shoots horizontally.
Image Date: 2000-05-13 | Photo ID: 2004041218

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Why to cut radically and differently than other wood

Late Flowering = Flowering on new shoots.
The more you cut, the more new shoots and therefore the more flowers you will get.


The stronger you cut the more new shoots you will get.
Image Date: 2001-05-08 | Photo ID: 2004041085


Without pruning: Great height, few flowering, above eye level.
Image Date: 2002-06-19 | Photo ID: 2004041078

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