Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Prune a Rose Tree

By Callie Barber ; Updated September 21, 2017

The rose tree, or standard rose tree, differs from regular rose bushes in that they are cultivated to look like a tree. The top of the tree contains the ball-shaped blooms and leaves. The "trunk" of the rose tree is a slender cane approximately 1 meter in length, which is free from blooms and foliage. Pruning the rose tree is essential to keeping the tree healthy. The central cane is left untouched, while the flowering "top" part of the tree should be pruned and cut back during the early spring. This essential maintenance is key to keeping the tree fragrant and full of stunning blooms.

Prune rose trees in the early spring, when the plant is still dormant and free of its leaves. Remove all dead and diseased wood from the tree using pruning shears, which are capable of making cuts up to 3/4 inches in diameter.

Remove all canes that are crossing each other, and cut off all gnarled twigs and branches out of the center of the tree to allow light and oxygen to circulate within.

Prune any canes that have grown beyond the rose’s natural shape back to the first outward-facing bud above a five-leaflet leaf. Make sure the overall shape of the rose tree is balanced and symmetrical. This will ensure even growth as new leaves and flowers begin to grow during the blooming season.

Remove debris like old twigs and rotten leaves from around the base of the tree to protect the bush with pests and disease, which lurk in winter debris. Remove all sucker shoots that sprout from the trunk and root of the tree. Cut them as close to the base as possible.

Lightly prune roses during the blooming season. Deadhead or remove spent blooms to stimulate fresh blooms. Trim back leggy branches protruding from the natural shape of the tree.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears


  • Cut the branches at a 45-degree angle and away from the bud with sharp shears to ensure a clean and precise cut. Sterilize the shears in between each cut with methanol to prevent spreading disease.


  • Always wear protective gloves when pruning roses, which have pointed 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.