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How to Prune a Queen Elizabeth Rose

Queen Elizabeth roses are hardy shrub roses that where introduced in 1954. Hardy in USDA zones 5 through 9, they produce large pink flowers in late spring to early summer and may bloom sporadically after the first flush of flowers. Pruning Queen Elizabeth roses regularly keeps these vigorous growers tidy and helps prevent disease and pest infestations. Prune Queen Elizabeth roses to maintain shape, increase air flow around canes, eliminate weak and damaged growth that could lead to insect and disease infestations and to encourage re-blooming after the first flush of flowers.

Prune Queen Elizabeth roses with sharp pruning shears. Disinfect the pruning shears between plants. Disinfect pruning shears between cuts if the rose you are pruning is diseased. Use a 10 percent bleach/water mix as your disinfectant. Place the 10 percent bleach/water mix in the plastic bucket for ease of dipping.

Cut 1/3 of the oldest canes to the ground. Old canes are dark green or greenish-brown and are not pliable. Make cuts on a 45-degree angle.

Cut back weak growth (long, floppy canes smaller in diameter than a No. 2 pencil) and canes that are crossing or rubbing other canes to the ground.

Remove dead or diseased canes at any time of the year. Make cuts on a 45-degree angle 1 to 2 inches into healthy growth. The pith (material inside the center of the cane) will be white. Make cuts 1/4 inch above a healthy outward-facing bud (the greenish-brown bump where new growth emerges).

Remove faded flowers. This procedure is known as deadheading. Make cuts on a 45-degree angle above an outward-facing bud.


Prune Queen Elizabeth roses in the spring just as buds are starting to swell.

Pruning cuts made on a 45-degree angle are less likely to act as a portal for rot or bacterial disease. This is because water runs off the 45-degree angle cut rather than sitting on and than sinking into the cane, as happens with horizontal cuts.

Leave three to five canes per Queen Elizabeth rose bush even if it means forgoing pruning.


Dispose of rose cuttings by throwing them away or burning them. Doing this will prevent the spread of bacterial disease and pest infestations.

Thin, spindly growth will not produce flowers and is more prone to disease and insect damage.

Do not crush or tear canes when making cuts. This damages healthy tissue, which can lead to bacterial disease or pest infestation.

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