Baxter County Master Gardener Program • University of Arkansas System • Division of Agriculture • © 2013 BCMG
Every time rose blooms are removed, plants are partially pruned. If plants are new or weak, cut the flower stems to leave as much foliage on the plant as possible. It is usually best not to cut flowers from a new planting until fall of the first season.
Even after plants are well established, never cut stems longer than needed. Leave at least two leaves on each stem (Figure 2). Weak stems may be cut shorter to force out lower, stronger growth. Thick vigorous stems may be cut higher.
Climate often determines the best pruning time. Roses normally need a light fall pruning and a more thorough spring pruning.
Keep these factors in mind when pruning any roses:
Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, and Grandifloras
Where winter temperatures may be damaging, it is best not to prune severely in fall. Take off only tops of canes with branching growth that tends to catch winds. Pruning in spring means a more thorough reduction in size. Normally, prune stems to about half the length they grew the previous season (Figure 3). However, do not cut back hybrid teas, floribundas and related types to less than 18 inches unless winter cold has killed them lower.
Pruning climbers differs slightly from pruning hybrid teas. Very vigorous types, known as ramblers, should be pruned in late spring immediately after flowering (Figure 4). All old canes that have flowered should be removed close to the base of the plant. This practice will force out young vigorous canes for bloom next year.
Climbing Hybrid Teas and Other Large-flowered, Everblooming Climbers
These roses don't need severe pruning. Many should have little or no pruning the first two to three years. Prune only to shape the plants and remove dead canes. Prune climbers late in the dormant period just as buds are breaking (Figure 5). Maintain two or three major canes. As new, vigorous canes develop from the base, allow them to remain and grow. After they develop, remove any old canes close to ground level to maintain the basic two or three vigorous basal canes. The best blooms of climbing hybrid teas are produced on short branches coming from 2- to 3-year-old wood. Allow these branches to remain, and cut them back to two or three vigorous buds per shoot. In summer, remove blooms as soon as they have faded.
"Old Garden" and Shrub Roses
Old garden rose species, such as the Damask rose, and shrub roses represent many different growth habits. Proper pruning results from becoming familiar with the growth habit of a particular type. In general, pruning of these types is little more than cutting back canes to shape the plants, removing dead flowers, or removing old poor-growing canes as new vigorous ones develop.
University of Missouri Extension Service
David H. Trinklein, Horticulture State Specialist, Division of Plant Sciences
Original Author, Ray R. Rothenberger, Department of Horticulture
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