How to Trim Rose Bushes


Roses are a fixture in many home landscapes. These fragrant flowers come in a wide range of colors and types. Trimming the rose bush keeps it looking its best each year. Pruning removes old dead and damaged wood, leaving room for new growth and more flowers. A proper trim also controls the size and shape of your rose bush, preventing it from becoming overgrown or unkempt looking. Roses are tolerant of severe trimming, so there is no reason to worry about pruning the bush wrong.

Step 1

Prune roses in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. Trim after daytime temperatures are above freezing and when the wood isn't frozen.

Step 2

Cut out dead rose canes with a pair of pruning shears. Remove the dead canes where they emerge from the crown of the bush, which is where the stems join the roots near soil level.

Step 3

Trim back damaged canes to the nearest bud on healthy wood. Cut the cane 1/4 inch in front of the outward facing bud and check the color of the wood at the cut. Continue to cut down the cane, just above the buds, until the wood color is a healthy cream color inside the cut.

Step 4

Cut back the entire rose bush to control its height and spread. Cut back all the canes to up to half their previous height. Cut the canes just above a leaf bud.

Step 5

Trim roses throughout the blooming period. Remove old flowers as soon as they fade, as this encourages new blooms in many varieties. Cut out dead and damaged canes that you notice when removing old flowers to keep the bush looking its best.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gloves when trimming roses to protect yourself from thorn injuries.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • Washington State University Extension: Secrets of Rose Pruning
  • Ohio State University: Fertilizing, Pruning and Winterizing Roses
Keywords: trimming rose bushes, pruning rose plants, rose bush care

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.