How to Prune Rose Bushes for the Winter


Roses, in exchange for exacting care, provide breathtaking beauty and fragrance in the garden and landscape. In addition to constant feeding, watering, disease and pest prevention and mulching, rose bushes require periodic pruning to produce the fullest, brightest blooms. While different rose varieties require different levels of pruning, all rose bushes need preparation to survive through the winter, especially in USDA hardiness zones where snow, wind and frigid temperatures are the norm.

Step 1

Dig down to the root and pull suckers off at the base. The University of Illinois Extension advises that cutting suckers only encourages twice the regrowth.

Step 2

Remove any broken, diseased or dead canes, using pruning shears or a pruning saw. Cut at least 1 inch below darkened wood, where wood is is green and the pith (center) of the stem is white.

Step 3

Cut out any weak or spindly canes that measure less than the size of a pencil in diameter.

Step 4

Cut away the weaker branch if canes are crossing and rubbing together. According to the Ohio State University Extension, canes rubbing together may cause abrasions that expose the entire plant to disease.

Step 5

Seal all cuts with white glue to prevent insect and disease infestation.

Tips and Warnings

  • Use only the sharpest cutting tools to ensure clean cuts. Ragged edges leave rose bushes susceptible to diseases, insect infestations and frost damage.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning saw
  • White glue


  • The Master Gardeners: Caring for Your Rose Bush Plants in Winter
  • Texas Agricultural Extension Service: Follow Proper Pruning Techniques
  • University of Illinois Extension: Our Rose Garden: Pruning
  • DePaul University: A Basic Guide to Pruning Rose Bushes
  • Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet: Fertilizing, Pruning and Winterizing Roses
Keywords: winter rosebush pruning, pruning roses properly, rose pruning techniques

About this Author

Deborah Waltenburg has been a freelance writer since 2002. In addition to her work for Demand Studios, Waltenburg has written for websites such as Freelance Writerville and Constant Content, and has worked as a ghostwriter for travel/tourism websites and numerous financial/debt reduction blogs.