Gear up for rose pruning


Mid-July to mid-August is the best time to do your rose pruning, this means your flowering period will start at the beginning of October. If you prune late August, your flowering period will start more towards end of October.

While pruning roses, you can also prune plants like Hydrangea, Pomegranate, Prunus, Pear and Apple trees. It is best to wait until spring to prune Fuchsias though.

Why do we prune roses?

We want to keep the rose bush robust and flowering prolifically hence we prune to remove old woody stems, diseased stems and weak spindly stems. The thick and younger green to light brown stems will shoot vigorously and provide large flowering buds.

Use the right tools for the right job

You will need:

  • Clean and sharp hand secateurs for cutting small to medium size stems up to 20mm in thickness. I like to use my Gardena Comfort Secateurs for pruning as they are strong and long lasting.
  • Gloves to protect your hands from thorns.
  • A lopper for stems too large for your secateurs to cut.
  • Possibly a saw for large stems which your lopper or secateurs cannot cut through.
  • A nice to have but not essential, hedging shears for fast removal of top growth which are generally thin branches.
  • Efekto Steriseal to seal large cuts for protection from insects and diseases which will help prevent die-back.
  • Efekto Lime Sulphur or Efekto Oleum to kill off insects and their eggs as well as diseases still lingering around. This will give the roses a fresh start for the new summer.

Remember to clean your tools before and after use to prevent damage and to the stop the spread of diseases around the garden.

How to prune roses

  • Find your cutting height which is just above knee height. Cut off all top growth straight across. You can use hedging shears to do this quickly but for large stems you may need to use your lopper or hand secateurs.
  • Now look at your rose bush again, find diseased stems, dead stems and weak stems and cut these out at the base.
  • Now look at what is left of your rose bush. You will still have branches to remove such as closely crossing stems and old woody stems. Keeping in mind that you want a well-shaped rose bush in roughly a ‘V’ shape. Start by removing the old woody stems as you want to keep the younger more vigorous stems.
  • By now you will have between 3-5 stems evenly spaced for fresh new growth.
  • Now tidy the top of the rose bush. Don’t worry about the direction of buds or the angle of cuts – this is of no importance when pruning.
  • Seal stems that are larger than a pencil with Efekto Steriseal followed by spraying with either Efekto Lime Sulphur or Efekto Oleum.
  • Rake away cuttings and old leaves and compost and mulch your roses.
  • Water your roses once a week for now and allow them to rest.

As of the first week of September you can apply the first application of rose fertiliser and up your watering to 2-3 times a week. Flowering season starts roughly at the beginning of October bringing colour and fragrance back to your garden in a spectacular flower show.

Pruning Iceberg roses

Icebergs are an exception to pruning hard. You should prune Icebergs by cutting them back by a third, taking care not to cut into old woody stems but rather pruning the green stems shorter to encourage new vigorous growth. This means that your Iceberg roses get a little larger each year.

You can take this time to prune out dead, damaged and diseased stems.

Pruning standard roses

  • Cut the rose head into a ball shape, about the size of a soccer ball.
  • Remove dead, damaged and diseased stems as well as weak spindly stems.
  • Remove old stems that cross close to younger stems to open the rose up for new fresh vigorous growth. Here you can apply pruning as you would a normal rose bush.

Pruning climbing roses over arches, trellises and pergolas

  • You don’t need to worry about pruning climbing roses very heavily. Try and cut about a third back if you can, to encourage new vigorous growth, otherwise cut green stems back to a few leaves if you can’t cut back a third.
  • Take this time to also remove dead, damaged and diseased stems to maintain plant health and keep your climbing rose robust and prolific.


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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Helen Kagan

    Hi there,
    please advise if you do Rose pruning for clients and if so, what is the charge?
    Helen Kagan

  2. Lindi

    I have a Pappa Meilland, Queen Elizabeth and Picture that has a height of approximately 2.5 m – pruning it back to the height of .5m sounds like too much for me. Am I correct in assuming that 1m is sufficient to prune them back to? Each year they grow to roof height 2.5m to 3m tall. Most of my other roses grow to a height of 1.5 to 2m

    1. GardenShop

      Hi Lindi, wow they must put on quite a show at that height! For your taller roses just cut back by a third – you don’t need to prune as hard. All you want to do is encourage new vigorous growth. Take this time to remove dead, damaged and diseased stems to maintain plant health and keep your rose robust and prolific.

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