How To Prune Roses to Promote More Flowering

15 Jul

I absolutely love roses. These Julia Child roses blooming in my garden are beautiful and smell delicious. I love walking outside when they are in full bloom because the entire yard is perfumed by their delightful scent. IMG_9458

Roses are not hard to care for, but they do have some specific growing requirements.

One of the most beneficial things you can do to promote flowering for your roses is knowing when and how to prune them.

knockout roses

Pictured below are some indispensable tools for taking care of roses.

Tools for Pruning Roses

Elbow-length leather gloves are an absolute must when pruning roses. Also pictured: a Corona anvil pruner, Fiskars garden scissors, and Rose-Glo rose food for post-pruning application.

Note: I always clean my tools with rubbing alcohol in between uses, and often in between pruning of individual plants. This approach prevents the spread of disease.

When pruning (and cutting flowers for arrangements), find the first cluster of 5 leaves on a stem. Not 7, not 3, not 9, but 5. That’s the spot where you will make your cut.

Like this:

5 Leaf Stem on Roses

Make a swift, angled cut as close as you can to the base of the cluster.

Like this:

Angled Cut on 5 Leaf Stem

In order to achieve a clean cut, your shears must be sharp. If they are not sharp, have them sharpened, or purchase a new pair.

This photo is of one of my Julia Child rose bushes in desperate need of pruning:

Julia Child Roses in Need of Pruning

I rarely allow my shrubs to get to this condition, but a blogger has to do what a blogger has to do for her readers.

Another rose shrub in desperate need of pruning:

Roses in Need of Pruning

Here’s what the same shrub looks like immediately after pruning:

Roses After Pruning

I use different pruning techniques depending on the time of year. During the growing season (late March to October in Austin), I simply prune spent flowers and any diseased branches. I also remove any stems that are crossing in the middle of the plant to promote air flow.

Around Labor Day and again near Valentine’s Day, I perform what’s known as a “hard-pruning” of my rose shrubs. I take off the top third of the plant (sometimes slightly more). I don’t necessarily worry about the 5-leaf rule when performing a hard prune, but I do try to achieve a vase-like shape for my shrubs because that’s what I prefer.

Here’s a photo about 2 weeks after my mid-February hard pruning this year:

Roses At End of Winter

Many rose bushes display purple new growth as pictured. That’s what your flowers will grow on when it comes time to bloom.

Here’s a close-up:

Roses With New Growth

And here are the exact same shrubs four weeks later in early April!

Roses in Bloom

Feel free to contact me in the comments below if you have any questions about how to care for your roses!

Pink Roses at Hardy



2 Responses to “How To Prune Roses to Promote More Flowering”

  1. roguish September 21, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

    Very quickly this site will be famous among all blog viewers, due
    to it’s nice posts

    • mbolke September 21, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

      What a lovely comment – thank you!

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