When and How to Trim a Rose Bush


Roses come in many varieties, from repeat bloomers to one-time bloomers, old-fashioned roses, English roses, tea roses, climbing roses, hybrids and many more. However, each variety of rose needs a basic type of pruning to keep in growing well and looking lovely in your yard. Many types of rose bushes can get out of hand if they are not trimmed back at least once a year.

Step 1

Remove the spent blooms of vigorous rose varieties, such as hybrid roses and floribuds, as they occur. Cut the rose back to the first outward-facing leaf bud, making the cut at a 45-degree angle. For shrub and old-fashioned rose varieties, just brush off the spent petals but leave the rose hip intact.

Step 2

Cut off any dead, damaged or diseased foliage on the rose bushes in the spring. Dead foliage is brown or black. Cut it back to the crown of the rose bush with the shears or saw. Clean the pruning equipment with the bleach after each cut to prevent the spread of disease.

Step 3

Remove any weak, crossing or rubbing canes from the entire rose bush in the spring. Cut them back at a 45-degree angle to the first outward-facing leaf bud.

Step 4

Remove any suckers rising up from the rootstock of the rose bush in the spring. Cut them back to the trunk of the rose bush.

Step 5

Prune back all canes to a uniform height each spring, between 1 and 1 ½ feet tall, except on rambling and climbing roses. Only prune rambling and climbing roses after they have flowered in the summer. Cut back all of the flowering canes and leave the new growth for next year.

Step 6

Trim the roses into your desired shape.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gloves when pruning roses to protect your hands from the thorns.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning saw
  • White glue
  • Bleach


  • University of Illinios Extension: Our Rose Garden--Pruning
  • University of Missouri Extension: Roses--Care After Planting
  • University of California Extension: Pruning Roses
Keywords: when trim roses, how trim roses, trimming roses

About this Author

Hollan Johnson is a freelance writer for many online publications including Garden Guides and eHow. She is also a contributing editor for Brighthub. She has been writing freelance since 2008 and her interests are travel, gardening, sewing, and Mac computers. Prior to freelance writing, Johnson taught English in Japan. Johnson has a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada.