Instructions for Pruning Rose Bushes


Pruning is essential to keep your rose bushes healthy and looking their best. Don't be afraid of removing too much. Plan to leave five or more healthy canes, reducing the height by up to two thirds. Prune roses in the spring, except in tropical and subtropical climates where winter pruning is best. Climbing roses need earlier pruning, between mid-January and early February. Wear thick gloves to protect your hands from thorns.

Step 1

Clean pruning shears or loppers in rubbing alcohol before beginning pruning and between bushes to avoid spreading disease. Put on gloves.

Step 2

Pinch off suckers that are growing up from the roots. Dig down to where the sucker attaches to the root and tear the sucker off at the root.

Step 3

Remove canes that are damaged, dead or diseased. Healthy canes are white or green inside; canes that are brown inside need to go. Cut back to a healthy bud, or remove the whole cane.

Step 4

Cut canes 1/4 inch above an outward facing bud at a 45 degree angle, parallel to the bud. Use clean sharp pruning shears or loppers to make a clean cut. Avoid crushing the stem.

Step 5

Prune out weak, thin canes and canes that are rubbing or crossed. Remove enough to open the plant up to sunshine and air.

Step 6

Remove remaining unwanted canes, leaving at least three to five strong, healthy canes. Prune these canes back to the desired height and shape, cutting away 1/2 to 2/3 of the height of the bush.

Step 7

Seal all cuts with sealing compound or white glue. Remove all debris from the area.

Step 8

Remove blooms as soon as they fade. Cut the stem at a diagonal just above the next set of leaves. Deadheading encourages the rose bush to produce more flowers. Allow rose hips to form at the end of the season.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Sharp loppers or pruning saw
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Gloves
  • Sealing compound


  • Clemson University: Pruning Roses
  • University of Illinois Extension: Pruning Roses
  • Washington State University: Secrets of Pruning Roses
Keywords: pruning rose bushes, rose pruning instructions, rose bush pruning

About this Author

Diane Watkins has been writing since 1984, with experience in newspaper, newsletter and web content. She writes two electronic newsletters and content around the web. Watkins has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Clemson University. She has taken graduate courses in biochemistry and education.