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How to Prune a Bonica Rose Plant


Protect your hands with gardening gloves when pruning roses.

Easy to care for and disease-resistant, the Bonica is a popular rose bush for many gardeners. According to, the Bonica is an award-winning shrub rose. Depending upon the USDA zone, this plant grows four to eight feet tall and continuously produces delicate pink slightly fragrant flowers from spring until frost. As this bush blooms from new wood, an early annual pruning is necessary.

Sharpen the garden and loping shears before pruning the rose. Dull blades will rip the rose stems instead of cutting, which will damage the plant.

Hold the cutting tools in the correct position when pruning a rose. Hold the tool so that the cut is at a 45 degree angle, facing away from the center of the plant. This opens up the bush, allowing more air flow, which reduces conditions for diseases.

Cut off dead canes. If the rose hasn’t leafed out, and you cannot tell whether the cane is dead, trim a tip of the cane. A dead cane will look dry and dark on the inside, while a living cane will have light-colored pith. Cut small sections from the cane until you come to healthy pith or you have cut the cane back to the base of the rose.

Cut all sucker canes from the rose. These will grow from the root and not the bud union, which is the spot on the rose where the roots and canes meet. Use a trowel to gently move the soil aside in order to cut the suckers as close to the roots as possible.

Remove the oldest canes from the Bonica rose. Leave about four or five healthy canes on the plant and prune these by a third.

Cut off any rose stems that are not at least as thick as a pencil. Trim off any leaves left from the previous season.

Use a wire-bristle brush to gently remove the corky-looking bark that formed around the bud union. According to the Central Florida Rose Society, this “allows new basal breaks to emerge from the bud union that might not otherwise grow through the hard bark.” The Rose Society explains that these basal canes will replace the old removed canes and increase the life and health of the rose bush.

Clean up all cuttings from around the Bonica rose; this includes the pruned canes and stems as well as rose debris left from last year. Discard them; composting rose debris provides a place for insects and disease to live.

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