Mid-February is the perfect time for pruning most roses, including Bush (Hybrid Tea and Floribundas), Climbing, and Shrub roses that repeat flower (including David Austin English Roses). The exceptions are Rambling, old Shrub, and species roses that flower only once; which should be pruned in late summer after flowering.
Pruning is an essential part of rose care, to keep the plants vigorous and healthy, and to encourage a good shape and abundant flowering. If left unpruned most roses will become a woody or tangled mass of stems with few flowers that are often out of reach, and will be more prone to disease.
Key Points about Pruning
- Use a good pair of sharp secateurs, and for thicker stems a pair of loppers may make the job easier.
- Wear a thick pair of gloves to protect against thorns.
- When making cuts aim to cut above an outward facing bud to encourage outward growth and an open centred plant.
- Remove any remaining leaves on your roses which may be harbouring disease spores.
- After pruning, clear all foliage and cuttings from your garden and do not put in the compost bin.
Rose Types & How to Prune
Bush Roses – including Hybrid Teas and Floribundas
Both types are repeat flowering: Hybrid Teas generally produce one flower on the end of each stem, whereas Floribundas have clusters of flowers at the end of each stem.
Hybrid Teas (Large flowered roses)
- Begin by removing the ‘four D’s’- any dead, dying, damaged or diseased stems.
- If overcrowded, remove one or two of the oldest woody stems at the base.
- Shorten the strongest stems to around 4-6 buds (10-15cm) in length.
- Prune weaker stems harder, to around 2-3 buds (5-10cm) in length.
Floribundas (Cluster flowered roses)
- Begin by removing the ‘four D’s’.
- Shorten the strongest looking stems to around 25-30cm above the soil level.
- Prune less vigorous stems further down.
Shrub Roses that repeat flower including David Austin English Roses
- Begin by pruning out the four D’s and removing any remaining foliage.
- Reduce any particularly long stems in keeping with the rest of the shrub.
- Cut back all the stems by around a third to maintain the plant at the previous year’s size.
- Mature plants can be pruned back by up to a half without reducing the amount of flower produced.
- Shorten side shoots to 2-3 buds.
These differ from Rambling roses as they flower repeatedly all summer and often into autumn, whereas ramblers usually only flower once, around June.
- Start by pruning out the four D’s and any weak growth.
- Tie in new shoots to fill gaps in your established framework, tieing them to existing supports as close to the horizontal as possible.
- Prune back last year’s flowered shoots by two thirds in length.
- If the plant is congested, remove one or two of the oldest stems at the base.
Pruners and Secateurs
To assist with your pruning needs, we have a range of garden tools available on our website. We stock tools from leading brands such as Burgon & Ball, Wilkinson Sword, Kent & Stowe, Wolf Garten and Felco. Click here to find your perfect tool today.
Further advice on roses and plant care
If you’re unsure on the best method for maintaining your roses, then speak with a member of our Outdoor Plants team at any of our Scotsdales branches around Cambridge. Alternatively, you can contact us on 01223 842777 for advice on the stock that we have available instore.
All images courtesy or Joy of Plants; Roald Dhal image courtesy David Austin Roses