Proper Trimming for Rose Bushes


Rose bushes need more maintenance than other flowering shrubs and give you something to do almost every season. There are many reasons for trimming rose bushes, such as for shaping, for health and for encouraging new growth. There are hundreds of varieties, and the key to pruning is to know when the rose blooms. General tips apply to all roses, and the spring and fall are the most essential pruning times. Proper trimming will give you the most attractive bushes and roses for years to come.

Step 1

Cut off dead or damaged canes at any time of year. They will be gray or brown and are not productive. Cut back to a healthy part of the cane or right up to the main trunk. Discard pruned canes in the trash and don't leave them near the plant to attract bugs and disease.

Step 2

Seal all cuts with white glue to protect them from being invaded by bugs or disease. You can purchase pruning sealer, but it's more expensive, and the white glue works fine.

Step 3

Cut thin, straggly canes and the smaller of any canes crossing each other. These canes will not support flowers and foliage and may cause damage to stronger canes.

Step 4

Cut off all suckers from under the graft line by cutting them off right against the main trunk or by digging down into the soil and cutting them off at the roots. Any canes larger in diameter than a pencil should be cut with loppers.

Step 5

Trim the bush to the desired size in the spring. Cut on a 45-degree angle a little less than 1/2 inch above a bud that faces outward. Cut all the major canes to form an open, round bush. This gives your bush better air circulation and guards against fungus disease.

Step 6

Cut one-third of older canes from the shrub. This will make room for the new canes without crowding. If the plant is an old garden rose, such as Mosses or Alba, wait to prune until after flowering.

Step 7

Deadhead flowers in the summer. As the flowers start to die off, pinch them off with your fingers or cut them with pruning shears. This will encourage more buds and keep the bush looking tidy.

Step 8

Prune off any canes that have grown out of proportion to the shrub in the fall. Trim it back to just above the closest bud that will bring it back into shape.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp pruning shears Garden spade Sharp loppers Heavy duty gardening gloves White glue


  • Texas A&M University: Pruning Methods
  • University of Illinois Extension: Pruning
  • DePaul University: A Basic Guide to Pruning Rose Bushes
Keywords: pruning rose bushes, trimming rose plants, rose bush care

About this Author

Dale DeVries is a retired realtor with 30 years of experience in almost every facet of the business. DeVries started writing in 1990 when she wrote advertising and training manuals for her real estate agents. Since retiring, she has spent the last two years writing well over a thousand articles online for Associated Content, Bright Hub and Demand Studios.