How to Cut & Trim Rosebushes


Left to their own devices, some rosebushes become unruly, sending out long canes in all directions. When this occurs, the rose may produce fewer blooms since its energy disperses between many gangly stems. Selective pruning and trimming can reduce the risk of disease and promote larger and more profuse blooms.

Step 1

Perform an all-over pruning in late fall after the first hard freeze when the rose loses its leaves and begins to enter its winter dormancy.

Step 2

Cut back the current season's growth to within 2 feet of the bud joint by making each cut approximately one-quarter of an inch above a stem joint at a slight angle. The bud joint is the hard root-like protrusion that extends just above ground level. It's imperative to use only very sharp pruning shears to prevent snags on the stems.

Step 3

Inspect the bush and cut away dry dead canes as close to the crown as possible. Also look for new green stems that grow from the base of old dried canes. These stems will not have the same energy as those growing from green wood and you may trim them away.

Step 4

Trim the rosebush after new growth appears in the spring and throughout the growing season to remove suckers and unruly canes. Suckers grow from the root beneath the ground and appear beside the original rosebush. Cut these off at their base as they poke through the soil.

Step 5

Remove damaged canes during the growing season by cutting below the damaged area and one-quarter of an inch above a stem joint.

Step 6

Apply horticultural sealing compound to the cut ends to reduce the risk of disease to the rosebush. Alternately, you may use melted paraffin and dab it on the cut to seal it until the cane heals.

Tips and Warnings

  • To prevent strain on the canes and breakage, avoid letting your rosebush canes grow so long that they bend over toward the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp pruning shears
  • Long-sleeve leather gardening gloves
  • Horticultural sealing compound


  • University of Illinois: Our Rose Garden
  • Weekend Gardener: How to Trim Roses
Keywords: trim roses, trim rosebushes, trimming rose bushes, trim rose bushes

About this Author

Glyn Sheridan is a freelance writer with published credits in regional and national media. Sheridan specializes in health, fitness, construction and business writing. She is also a past editor of "Kansas Women - Focus on Fitness." Sheridan's education includes marketing and journalism.