When and How to Trim Rose Bushes


Rose bushes perform best when they are regularly trimmed back. Pruning keeps the rose bush neat and compact, prevents its thorny branches from taking over your garden, and maintains the rose's health by promoting good air circulation. Some roses are trimmed twice in one year, but, depending on the type of rose bush and the size of the plant, most gardeners adhere to a simple annual rose bush pruning.

Step 1

Wait until spring-blooming shrub roses have flowered before you prune them. All other types of roses are best pruned in late winter or in early spring, once the danger of frost has passed for your area and before the rose bush begins growing again.

Step 2

Check the rose bush for dead or frost-damaged growth, which will be woody and brown in color. Use hand shears to cut off any dead or damaged growth at its base, then discard the cuttings.

Step 3

Trim off thin, reedy growth at the base of your rose bush.

Step 4

Cut rose shrubs back to a height of 18 to 24 inches. Select three to five strong canes, or branches, and trim away the others.

Step 5

Allow your rose bush to grow and flower. If your rose is a hybrid tea rose bush, you may choose to clip the top, bushy growth in midsummer. This will protect the rose from damaging winter winds. Otherwise, there is no need to trim your rose again until the following year.

Tips and Warnings

  • Hybrid tea climbing roses should be pruned lightly. For these flowers, only the dead wood should be removed. Other climbing roses can be pruned heavily, following the steps outlined in this article.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand shears


  • University of Missouri Extension: Pruning Ornamental Shrubs
Keywords: rose bushes, trim rose bush, prune roses

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.