Down Garden Services

Indoor Plant Care
Information for homeowners,
garden centre personnel,
and plantscape technicians.

Pruning Roses

Pruning  Shrubs  Trees  Hedges

Shrub roses require annual pruning to keep them compact and to promote new growth. For larger specimens two prunings are usual, the first in late autumn when most flowering has ended to reduce the height and prevent rocking by winter winds. The more accurate pruning is carried out in early spring, and recently this has been earlier than is mentioned in most gardening books due to the milder winters.
Any dead or diseased branches are removed then the remainder are cut back to an outward-facing bud - this can be quite small and is marked by a horizontal line left by an old leaf scar. Inward facing, and weak branches are usually removed to give a better shape and allow a good flow of air to prevent diseases. Recent thought is to leave the finer branches as although they are unlikely to carry flowers, their leaves produce valuable nutrients. Pick off any remaining leaves with Blackspot disease - pruning the stems hard back removes most of the lesions which might be on the bark.
A recent practice is to use a hedge trimmer to do the initial cutting back and tests have shown that without any further detailed pruning, flowering has been just as good if not better. This may work for a few years, but the bushes would become congested and may be more prone to disease.

Climbing roses grow to less than 3 metres and have to be trained to obtain the best show of flowers. Left untrained, branches grow upwards and produce a small number of blooms near to the top. To encourage more blooms the branches have to be trained horizontally along wires or on trellis. This changes the balance of the growth hormones causing lots of side shoots to grow and these will carry more flowers. Allow a number of branches to develop and bend them sideways when they are young and pliable, tying them in at different heights. On a pillar or obelisk train the main stems an a spiral starting at the bottom. Take some to a higher level before beginning the spiral to ensure flowers are produced all the the way up the support as the stems of climbing roses only grow to about 3 metres.
Flowers are produced on the current years growth, so after flowering is over cut the shoots back leaving a few buds on each one. Each year cut out some older branches at the base and tie in the new ones, to maintain a succession of growth. Older roses can be rejuvenated by cutting out the older main stems near to the base to force new ones to grow, do not remove all of them as the shock may be too great.

Rambling roses grow to more than 3 metres in height and are not usually pruned except to keep them within the required spread or to remove old and dead material, but they can be treated in a similar way to climbers if a more controlled display is required. They flower once in a season on the previous years growth, so prune out the flowered shoots immediately after flowering. Some produce attractive 'hips so pruning can be delayed until late winter so that they can be enjoyed.

Standard roses are not so common now, but are treated like shrub roses, except they are on a stem with an elevated grafting point.

Almost all of the roses sold commercially are grafted onto a rootstock and there is a tendency for suckers to grow from below the grafting point which is a swollen area at the base of the plant. These usually have smaller leaflets than the grafted rose. The current wisdom is to ensure the grafting point is below the level of the soil when planting to discourage the growth of suckers. If they do grow they should be pulled away from where they originate, if needed carefully dig down to find this. If cut they will just regrow.

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