How to Cut Rose Bushes


Rose growers love to display their favorite blooms in bouquets or a single cultivar in a bud vase. The way in which you snip off emerging blooms will determine how your rose bush will grow, along with its future flowering pattern, says Ed Perry, farm adviser for the University of California Cooperative Extension. Proper cutting can ensure a season full of blooms on a bush full of healthy buds and foliage.

Step 1

Water rose bushes the night before cutting to get firmer flowers. Cut in the early morning when it is cool. Heat dries the stems and quickly causes droop. Cut at an angle so stems do not rest flat on the bottom of the vase and impede water uptake. Recut the stem just before putting it in a vase of warm water.

Step 2

Cut roses with a single flower per stem just above the first five-leaf cluster. Hybrid teas and other single-flower rose bushes produce triple-leaf stems around the principal flower. Look lower on the cane for five-leaf clusters with buds at their base. Wear gloves and make a diagonal cut with sharp bypass pruners about 1/4 inch above the first five-leaf cluster. Cut diagonally away from the bud. Cutting the foliage opens the bud to the sun and produces a strong flower.

Step 3

Grow large blooms for prize bouquets by eliminating the competition for food and energy. Leave the principal bud at the top end of the branch, but cut off all other buds on the branch when they are about 1/4 inch long. Locate the buds at the base of five-leaf clusters. The single bud will receive all the energy from the branch and grow bigger than normal.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid cutting any rose bush that is not growing well. It may need fertilizer, water or pest control. When cutting flowers, greenery or a broken or irregular stem, you are removing the means for the plant to produce food. Cut sparingly, if at all. Disinfect pruners between rose bushes to keep from spreading diseases. Dilute 1 oz. (30 ml) household bleach in one gallon (3.8 L) of tap water and add 1 oz. (30 ml) of 5-percent distilled white vinegar and dip the pruners in for 10 minutes after cutting each plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruners
  • Gloves
  • Disinfectant


  • Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society: Extend the Life of Your Cut Roses
  • University of California Cooperative Extension:Proper Flower Cutting Keeps Rose Bushes Blooming
  • Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits: Vinegar as a Disinfectant
Keywords: rose care, cutting roses, encouraging flower production

About this Author

TS Owen spent her career in journalism, winning the national Koop science writer award and penning articles in "Newsweek" and the "San Francisco Chronicle." She also served as an editor for a variety of publications in the San Francisco Bay Area and Banff, Alberta. Owen has a master's degree in English education.