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How to Prune Rose Bushes in the Fall

Rose image by reises from

Pruning roses in the fall should be done lightly and only as necessary to help them see their way through the winter disease-free and without damage. In warm and temperate climates, fall pruning is minimal. In cold and freezing climes, fall pruning is more severe. The bulk of rose pruning for size, structure and shape should be conducted in the spring after the last hard frost, write Cindy Welyczkowsky and Jane Martin at Ohio State University.

Prune back all spent flower stems to just above a leaf node with five healthy petals. Place cuts on the bias

Cut back dead, damaged or disease canes and foliage back to the point of healthy cane tissue that is white in color on the interior and green on the exterior.

Winterize rose plants grown in cold or windy winter climes by cutting canes down to roughly 30 inches before securing them with ties to prevent breakage. Cut the canes lower as needed to fit under fixed rose cones or other winter protection products.

Pull all pruned canes clear from the canopy and lift up all cuttings, dropped leaves or petals from the soil surface to prevent the soil surface from being a breeding ground for pests and disease.

Plant And Prune Rose Bushes Outdoors

Choose a sunny planting site. Roses need at least six hours of sunlight per day. In cold climates where winter temperatures become colder than -10 degrees Fahrenheit, dig a slightly deeper hole so that the graft union sits 4 to 6 inches beneath the surface of the soil. Place the rose in the hole and spread out the roots. Mix some organic material, such as compost, composted bark or manure, into the removed soil before putting the soil back into the hole. Apply 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the base of the plant, keeping the mulch at least 3 inches away from the canes. Prune the bushes during winter before the rose buds begin to swell. Remove leaves from the newly pruned rose bushes.


Always prune roses with sharp and sterile cutting blades to prevent the transfer or invitation of disease. Wipe down cutting blades with isopropyl alcohol and scrub off any built-up plant tissue with a clean scrubbing pad or brush.

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