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How to Prune Rose Bushes in Arizona

Rose Rose image by Jan Wowra, Frankfurt from

Rose bushes grown in Arizona have special cultural needs. Fortunately for rose growers in Arizona, roses in this region of the world suffer from fewer fungal infections than roses grown in more humid climates. Roses grown in Arizona, however, are susceptible to cane borers. Arizona roses are also particularly prone to drought stress and even more so after they are pruned. Keep your roses healthy by giving them extra attention after you prune.

Prune all dead or diseased canes. These canes will appear black, brown, shriveled or otherwise discolored. Make your cut at least 1 inch below the diseased portion of the cane so you are cutting into green wood (or cut them back to their point of origin if the entire cane is diseased). You should see white, healthy pith in the center of the pruning cut you have made. If the pith is dark-colored, prune back further until you see healthy, white cane tissue.

Prune canes that are thinner than a pencil in diameter back to their point of origin.

Prune any branches that cross other branches or grow toward the center of the plant to increase the interior light penetration and air circulation.

Cut the remaining canes back to a uniform height--usually 1 to 2 feet. Leave at least three outward-facing buds on each cane.

Remove any suckers growing beneath the bud union on grafted roses. Use a trowel or your hands to dig to the point of the sucker's origin then tear it off. Pruning the suckers at the soil's surface will only encourage more to grow.

Coat all pruning cuts with a thin layer of white glue (Elmer's Glue works fine) applied with your fingertip to prevent wood borer infestation.

Dead head ever-blooming roses as soon as they fade. Cut the flower stem back to the nearest outward-facing bud, just above a five- or seven-leaflet leaf.

Clear away all pruning debris immediately after you are done pruning.

Water your roses so the top 2 to 3 feet of the soil is moist. Irrigate the rose's root zone slowly so the water has time to absorb.


Prune adult, hybrid ever-blooming roses between January and February. Make all of your pruning cuts at a 45-degree angle. Pruned canes should be cut roughly 1/4 inch above the nearest outward-facing bud at an angle that slants away from the bud. Don't be afraid to prune hard. Ever-blooming roses, as a general rule, are pruned back hard in early spring. It is not uncommon to have only 9 to 12 healthy (1/2-inch diameter), stout canes that are spaced evenly around the plant. Do not prune more than one third of the plant in any one season. Prune in the above order and simply stop when one third of the plant is gone. You can prune more next season. Heirloom roses should not be pruned hard in spring, as they bloom on old wood. Prune these roses in September after they have finished blooming and simply remove old, nonproducing or diseased wood. Do not dead head heirloom roses. Hook and blade pruning shears, long-handled lopping shears and fine-toothed curved pruning saws (for thick rose canes) are the best tools to use for pruning roses. Make sure your tools are sharp so you leave clean cuts behind.

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