How to Prune an Overgrown Rose Bush


Rose bushes are beautiful, sweetly scented perennial plants that enhance a garden and provide the homeowner with many years of enjoyment. There are many color varieties of roses including solid colors like yellow and pink, and variegated blooms in red and white. Overgrown rose bushes need to be tended to as soon as possible. Cutting back and pruning the bush will free up nutrients to the healthy and hardy parts of the rose bush. These essential nutrients will be released to the blooms, canes and roots of the rose bush, bringing this stunning bush back to life.

Step 1

Prune an overgrown rose bush after the first frost and when the foliage has died back. Roses do not undergo a complete dormancy so don't worry if there are a few leaves left on the rose bush.

Step 2

Remove any debris such as leaves and dead twigs from under and around the base of the rose bush. This will prevent insects and pests from laying eggs in the foliage.

Step 3

Start by removing all dead stems. Cut back any old or twisted branches that are overtaking the rose bush. Open up the rose bush using pruning shears and remove all branches that cross or rub other stems.

Step 4

Prune all thin and gnarled branches by removing the entire branch. Remove green sapling stems that are growing off the central rose bush stem and cut back all weak stems that are less than a pencil size in diameter.

Step 5

Cut away all sucker shoots that can take over a rose bush. These shoots are found growing from the root area of the bush and should be removed as soon as possible.

Step 6

Prune one half inch above each leaf bud at a 45-degree angle. Cut the hardy and healthy stems back one third to one half of their length. Using sealing compound, paint the fresh cuts to prevent infections and diseases.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Sealing compound


  • University of Illinois Extension
Keywords: overgrown roses, pruning rose bushes, cutting back roses

About this Author

Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on and Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.