Pruning Roses

There are many reasons for pruning roses. Where and what you use to prune your roses will depend on what you are trying to accomplish.

cut rose
Before heading out to prune your roses, check these tips for the proper tools to use, the proper cutting technique and the proper place to cut.

Proper Tools

Using the correct tool for the job is important.
Sharp blades not only lessen the pressure needed for cuts but make cleaner cuts allowing the plant to heal quicker.

anvil pruners Anvil pruners are used for cutting dead, hardened wood. They have a flat spot where the branch sits while the blade chops down into it. Using these on live canes causes them to be smashed which damages the cane.

side cut prunersSide Cut or Bypass pruners are used on live wood. These pruners use a scissor action, slicing the cane cleanly.

For thick canes, use a pair of two handed loppers. They will give you a nice clean cut without wearing out your wrists.

Proper Pruning Cut

Giving a good cut goes a long way to helping your plant stay healthy. This picture shows three bad cuts along with one correct cut. These cuts aren't just for pruning roses, use them for all plants you prune.
pruning cut
Letter B is bad. It slants toward the emerging bud. This direction of cut allows water to flow down and land between the bud and cane. Water sitting in that spot can freeze damagaing the cane. It can also be a breeding ground for diseases.

Letter C is bad. It slants in the correct direction but it too far away from the emerging bud. Having the cut too far away from the bud decreases the chance that the bud receives the signal to start growing. The bud will likely not grow or grow a little and die off.

Letter D is bad. The cut is too close to the bud. It might have damaged the bud. The bud also needs room to widen. Having a cut that close will not allow the bud the room it needs to increase in diameter. This can result in a weak stalk.

Letter A is the correct cut. It slants so any rain water drains away from the emerging bud. It is far enough away from the bud to allow for future growth. It is close enough to signal the bud to start growing.

Proper Place for Pruning Roses

To encourage your rose to send up a new flower stalk, prune it in the proper spot.
pruning rosesWhile each rose presents its own pruning challenge, the majority of hybrid teas can be pruned with this guide in mind.

Follow the flower stem down to the first set of five leaves. Right above that point is where you want to make your pruning cut.

Why the first set of five leaves? I have no idea where that originated, but I do know that it works. Every time I follow that rule, I get a stalk that produces a flower.

Carpet roses tend to flower profusely on their own and don't require pruning for encouragement. You would only need to prune them if you want to shape them.

Shrub roses can benefit from flower producing pruning, but again it isn't necessary. If the flower production has dwindled you can do some spot pruning to encourage new canes.

Other reasons for pruning roses

To remove dead or damaged wood. Dead or damaged canes are breeding grounds for diseases.

To remove crossing or rubbing branches. Branching that are in constant contact with each other get friction sores. These sores are openings for diseases and insects.

Dip pruners into a solution of 1 part bleach 10 parts water after each cut.

This small step taken while pruning roses will help lessen the spread of diseases.

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