Signs for Pruning Rose Bushes

More than 100 species of the popular rose exist. These roses include miniatures, climbers, shrubs, bushes and other cultivars. Roses have thorny stems, but produce beautiful, fragrant blooms that are attractive to gardeners. They do well in a variety of growing zones and are relatively easy to grow but they do need to be pruned to remain healthy and produce blossoms.

Overcrowded Bushes

The best time to prune overcrowded bushes is in the early spring when the buds begin to swell. Prune canes that cross through the center of the bush, because if left, they will block air to the plant. If canes are rubbing against one another, prune the smaller ones. The stronger canes will get healthier and more robust.

Diseased, Damaged, or Dead Canes

Cut back canes that have been damaged by frost to just above the nearest healthy bud. A good time to do this is in the spring when the buds begin to swell. If a summer storm damages canes on your bush, prune them. The fall is a good time to prune stems that have been infected by disease or are dying or dead. If you live in a warm area, prune your roses in the cooler months so they have time to regain energy before it is time to bloom.

Thin, Straggly Canes

Canes that are straggly and thin won't produce blooms and will suck energy from the whole plant. Winter wind and ice will do less damage to shorter stems. If you live in an area with harsh winters, you should cut them back in the fall. If you live in a mild area, wait until spring to prune.

Older, Less Vigorous Bush

If your rose bush is older, producing fewer blooms, and it's no longer balanced and rounded, you should prune it extensively. The new growth that will result from your pruning should give you more blooms.

Too Tall

If your bush is growing too tall, prune it to the size you want, cutting at an angle above a bud that faces outward.

Faded Blossoms

When rose blooms begin to shrivel, they don't look good. Prune them from your bush to encourage new blossoms to grow.

New Bush

If you plant a new rose bush, cut the canes down to 8 to 10 inches. If the canes are already that long, cut the tips.

Keywords: pruning roses, rose pruning, caring for roses

About this Author

Richard Hoyt, an internationally published author of 26 mysteries, thrillers and other novels, is a former reporter for Honolulu dailies and writer for "Newsweek" magazine. He taught nonfiction writing and journalism at the university level for 10 years. He holds a Ph.D. in American studies.