How to Trim Shrub Roses

Overview

Roses left to themselves are beautiful landscape features, but they'll flourish with careful pruning. Shrub roses are different than bush roses, and though most shrub roses require the same type of pruning, one type, the Gallica, needs a different technique. Follow the steps in the first section if you're not sure whether your shrub rose is the Gallica variety or something different.

Most Shrub Roses

Step 1

Wait until summer flowering is over for the shrub rose. Some shrub rose varieties, such as Bourbons, China Roses and Portland Roses, are repeat-flowering, so the pruning should wait until the dormant season, says Christopher Brickell, author of "Pruning and Training."

Step 2

Cut out all dead, diseased and damaged stems.

Step 3

Cut out thin crossing stems, which are resting on other stems to prevent stressing the branches.

Step 4

Cut back old, larger stems by about one-third of their total length.

Step 5

Cut back lateral stems, those growing out horizontally from main stems, by about one-third.

Step 6

Check the base for low-growing shoots that will arch over onto the ground; remove these.

Step 7

Trim back any extra-long shoots.

Gallicas

Step 1

Wait until early summer, when flowering is over.

Step 2

Cut out all dead, diseased and damaged stems.

Step 3

Cut laterals back to the main stem.

Step 4

Remove one or two old, woody stems completely from the base of the rose every one to three years.

Step 5

Clip Gallicas in winter, if desired, using shears to clip into a more hedge-like shape; don't get formal, however. These shrub roses are naturally looser in shape, and that's part of their charm.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp pruning shears

References

  • "The American Horticultural Society Pruning and Training;" Christopher Brickell; 1996
Keywords: pruning roses, shaping shrub roses, shrub rose trimming

About this Author

Annie Mueller is a writer, editor, professional blogger, website designer, and tutor. She attended Missouri Baptist College and earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Mississippi State University, with a Summa Cum Laude standing. She has written extensively on gardening, parenting, education, and personal growth for women.