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How Far Back Should I Prune My Roses?

By Robert W. Lewis
Good pruning encourges larger and more abundant flowering.

Rose pruning is a basic and essential chore for the rose gardener. When the time comes, many gardeners are not sure how much to prune their roses. The answer depends on what you want to accomplish.

Spring Pruning

The object of spring pruning is to encourage vigorous growth and multiple branching. After all dead, diseased and crossed canes are removed, the remaining canes should be cut back 1/3 to 1/2. For a rejuvenative pruning, the canes can be cut back to 12 inches.


Repeat blooming roses need deadheading as their flowers fade. Snip back spent blooms to encourage new flowering. Long and spindly stems can be cut back closer to a main cane to encourage stronger branching.

Winter Trimming

Roses do not require pruning in preparation for winter. If you have any long or stray stems that might whip around in winter winds, cut them back to a manageable size. It is always appropriate to cut dead or diseased canes back to healthy tissue.


About the Author


Robert Lewis has been writing do-it-yourself and garden-related articles since 2000. He holds a B.A. in history from the University of Maryland and has training experience in finance, garden center retailing and teaching English as a second language. Lewis is an antiques dealer specializing in Chinese and Japanese export porcelain.