Updated: Mar 30
When to Prune?
You can prune roses in the autumn or early spring. I favour early spring, partly because that’s what my Dad taught me and also, if your rose produces hips, they (the hips) are a valuable source of food for birds.
So, before you start, there are two vital pieces of equipment to gather together. First, a pair of good, sharp secateurs so that you make a clean cut without any snags. If the stem splits or is ragged, disease can easily take hold. Second, a pair of rugged gloves. Too many times have my hands been shredded through laziness (not bothering with gloves at all) or because the gloves I had were just not up to the job.
How to do it
The steps that follow apply to all roses except ramblers and climbers, where, for the most part all you need to do is to cut out dead, damaged or diseased wood, or prune back to keep them in bounds.
When pruning, make a sloping cut just above an outward-facing bud: the cut should slope downwards away from the bud to prevent any build-up of moisture on the cut surface which could lead to rotting.
So, let’s get snipping. First cut out any stems that are crossing over other stems. Remove any dead stems, right back to the base of the plant if necessary. Also, cut back to good wood any damaged parts, or stems that are dying.
After you’ve dealt with the first stage, what next? The idea is to create an open-centred shape to encourage good air flow which will discourage pests and diseases, and to keep the rose within bounds. So basically, cut back as far as you want to depending on how big you want the rose to be. Bear in mind, however, that some roses are by their very nature, more robust and rampant than others. If you’re not sure about the natural habit of your rose, look it up on a rose specialist website.
Lastly, give your pruned rose a helping of rose fertiliser and give it a good mulch with garden compost or manure to set it up for the summer.
And that’s it!