Simple rose pruning rules
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There are seemingly many rules to consider when pruning roses, so daunting that most people choose not to bother for fear of causing more harm than good.
But some simple rose pruning rules applied at the right time will easily enhance your roses regardless of what they are.
Consider first, does the rose flower just once? If so prune in late summer after flowering is completed.
The objective is – as with all pruning – to keep the plants free of dead, diseased and damaged wood (the three D’s). Crossing or rubbing branches and spindly growth should also be removed.
Avoid any excessive build-up of the older, less productive wood that can crowd out the centre of the plant. Opening up the plant to form a goblet shape is the plan.
Remove older branches from the centre if necessary. If they become leggy and bare at the base, remove one or two stems back near the ground to encourage new growth from the base.
If on the other hand, you don’t know if the plant flowers just once, prune your roses in February to March. Use the simple rose pruning rules below, as described by the RHS.
Prune in late winter before dormancy breaks
The idea here is to make the cuts before the plant breaks dormancy in the spring.
- Cuts should be no more than 5mm (¼ in) above a bud and should slope away from it, so that water does not collect on the bud. This applies to all cuts, whether removing dead wood, deadheading or annual pruning.
- Cut to an outward-facing bud to encourage an open-centred shape. With roses of spreading habit, prune some stems to inward-facing buds to encourage more upright growth.
- If a dormant bud is not visible, just cut to an appropriate height
Make your cuts clean and neat using clean and sharp secateurs. For thicker stems use loppers or a pruning saw.
- Prune and dieback to healthy wood. Cut out dead and diseased stems and spindly and crossing stems. Aim for well-spaced stems that allow free air flow.
- On established roses, cut out poorly flowering old wood. Saw away old stubs that have failed to produce new shoots
- With the exception of climbing roses and shrub roses, prune all newly planted roses hard to encourage vigorous shoots.
- Trace suckers back to the roots from which they grow and pull them, rather than cut them, away.
So there it is, simple rose pruning rules that we can all follow to keep your roses easily maintained, and enhanced.
From the ground up can show you how to prune your roses and other shrubs.
And if you need any extra guidance, search the RHS website for rose pruning, where everything is explained very clearly.
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