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How to Prune a Rose Bush in the Spring

By Elton Dunn ; Updated September 21, 2017
Roses need pruning year round, including in the spring.
rose image by MoonKeeper from Fotolia.com

Rose bushes need regular pruning and maintenance to stay in good shape and keep producing. While the gardener will need to tend the plant post-bloom, he'll also need to perform a spring pruning to shape the rose bush and remove any unhealthy wood. Wait until all danger of frost has passed to prune the rose bush in the spring. Always wear garden gloves when pruning roses to avoid getting injured by their thorns.

Remove rose bush canes that are old, dead or no longer very productive. According to Texas A&M University, these branches are typically gray in color rather than green. Cut these canes off at their base or, if you can see green growth below, prune them back to a healthy area.

Remove rose bush canes that crisscross over other canes, since these canes can injure the bush.

Trim off any suckers that grow from the base of the plant or bear the graft site, which is identifiable as a thin horizontal scar at the base of the plant. Suckers will not bear flowers.

Open up the interior canopy of the rose bush by removing thin or weak canes from the plant. This promotes better air circulation through your rose bush, which will keep the plant healthy.

Prune away twiggy weak growth that emerges from the canes for all except climbing roses. Wait to do this to climbing roses until they have finished blooming, since they are early spring bloomers.

Cut back healthy canes to a dormant bud. Texas A&M recommends cutting back to the point where a cane is the width of a pencil, or cutting 1/4 inch above the nearest outward facing bud (so the flowers face out rather than in).


Things You Will Need

  • Garden gloves
  • Scissor pruners

About the Author


A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.