Pruning Shrub Roses

What you’ll need

  • Pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pruning saw

step 1: When to Prune Shrub Roses

When you prune a rose depends on its blooming habit. Roses that just bloom one time are pruned after blooming; if you prune them during the dormant period, you will cut off potential flowers.

Roses that bloom all summer are pruned at the end of their dormant period in early spring. Prune them as the buds begin to fatten, but before new growth begins.

step 2: Remove Dead and Damaged Canes

Prune off any canes or branches that have been killed or damaged during the winter. Prune dead tips back to healthy wood, making a cut just above a bud. Buds are at the base of leaves or leaf scars.

step 3: Remove the Oldest Canes

As the rose grows older, remove a few of the oldest canes each year to keep it young. This will force the growth of new canes to replace the old ones. Cut the canes off at the ground or where they originate at the base of the plant.

step 4: Shape and Size the Shrub

The only other pruning you need to do is to thin and shape the plant so you like it. In places where it has become dense, remove some canes to allow light and air to penetrate. Remove or cut back any awkward canes or those that unbalance the shrub’s symmetry.

If the shrub is too large for its space, reduce its size by removing whole canes or by shortening canes. To shorten a cane, make a pruning cut just above a bud. Select a bud that’s pointed in the direction you would like new growth to go; new growth will start with the end bud on the cane and follow the direction of the bud.