Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Prune a Rose Bush for Winter

Stunning and fragrant, roses will provide a gorgeous focal point to your outdoor garden and landscape. Pruning your roses is essential in keeping them healthy and to creating colorful and long lasting blooms. During their blooming period, deadhead, or remove, the old blooms to free up needed nutrients to the rest of the plant and to allow for more buds the following growing season. Keep your roses healthy by mulching around the base of the bush in the warm summer months. This will help to retain moisture and humidity in the soil.

Make sure your rose bush has undergone a frost and has lost most of its leaves. Roses do not go through a full dormancy period; rather, they slowly wind down to a reduced rate of growth, the ideal time to begin pruning.

Clear out all debris such as weeds and leaves around the base of the plant. Insects and disease prefer this environment so it’s essential to remove all debris to keep the number down to a minimum.

Cut back all dead wood and branches that are diseased and damaged by removing the entire branch. Remove all old and gnarled branches and stems. Open up the rose bush by removing any branches that cross over the main stem.

Prune all weak or thin rose branches to free up nutrients for the central stem and allow more light to the rose bush. Remove all branches that cross over each other.

Cut back any green saplings that grow off the main branch. Remove all sucker shoots, or stems that sprout up from the root base as soon as they pop up.

Prune above the rose leaf bud that points toward the outside of the bush. Cut back to a healthy bud by angling the pruning shears at a 45-degree angle.

Use sharp pruning shears to prevent uneven and ragged cuts and to decrease the possibility of the roses becoming infected with disease. Brush sealing compound onto all open cuts to prevent insects and disease from damaging or killing the roses.


Use methanol to wipe down the pruning shears in between each cut. This will help to prevent spreading disease to the rose bush.

Garden Guides