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How to Shape a Rose Bush

By Callie Barber ; Updated September 21, 2017

Roses add a vibrant, fragrant ambiance to any outdoor garden. Shaping and pruning your roses is an essential maintenance routine to start early and when the roses are young. Begin to shape the bush by removing (or deadheading) all old flowers and blooms. Remove any twigs and debris around the base of the plant to let air in and to eliminate any lurking insects and disease, which like this kind of environment. Over time, shape the bushes to a natural form--their preferred look. Keeping your rose bush properly shaped is key to promoting their health.

Shape the rose bush in the early spring when the new growth is fresh and is emerging from winter’s dormant period. Deadhead or remove developed flowers before they begin to seed.

Remove all damaged and dead canes by cutting them off at the base of the bush. Cut off all diseased and insect-infested branches to allow the healthy growth on the rose bush to take shape.

Remove thin and gnarled branches to free up nutrients to the healthy branches. Prune all sucker shoots, or vigorous small shoots growing from the base of the rose bush, as soon as they are noticeable.

Keep three to five healthy branches evenly spaced around the rose bush. Cut back these canes to one-third their length. Cut at a 45-degree angle 1/4 inch above each outward-facing bud. Use sharp pruning shears to ensure cuts are clean.

Paint the fresh cuts with sealing compound to ensure the rose bush remains healthy and to prevent infecting the rose bush.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Sealing compound


  • Sterilize the pruning shears with methanol in between each cut to prevent infecting the rose bush.


  • Always wear gardening gloves when pruning roses, which have prickly and sharp thorns.

About the Author


Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on Travels.com and GardenGuides.com. Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.