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We moved house last year and have inherited a rose bush in the front garden. I have no idea what variety it is but I don’t think it’s had much care in the past.


It’s about 50 cm round but has grown to over 6ft tall; many of the branches are brown and woody looking whilst some are very green. It flowered in summer last year through to winter.


I would like to prune it back to a shorter height but as a novice gardener I’m not sure when the best time to do this is or how aggressive I can be with pruning. I have been told that it’s no longer the original rose that is flowering.


Please help!  


Roses are very resilient-it sounds as though drastic action is required-you can prune back very hard and they will recover-though flowering this year may be slighty affected

I usually prune from Mid- February onwards but if you wish to remove some of the rubbish now and say 2 foot of top growth it will not do any harm-and then do a proper prune in a few weeks when the new shoots will start appearing

The other concern is "not the original roses flowering"-unless that is a sucker then that is odd-perhaps a bit more info?

You will also need to feed after the main pruning.

Many thanks for the advice.

I think I do need to cut back quite a lot as it just keeps getting taller.

I’m not very experienced but my neighbour told me it wasn’t the original rose flowering anymore. The flowering stems are the tallest and quite thin, the others are brown and woody. The base is all brown/ woody and the branches, green and brown come out from above ground level. I’m afraid that it just seems to have been left to grow into quite a mess!

Many thanks for your help


Unless it is something fantastic-it might be better to dig out and replace with a brand new one

If you do that you must replace the soil with some from another part of the garden not just plant in the same spot-that avoids something called roses sickness.

Also remember that pruning stimulates growth-but unpruned roses will just keep getting taller and taller.



What were the flowers like, did you like them? 

Thanks for the good advice. I'm afraid it's not fantastic so I'll try pruning first and if that fails it may have to go.


Advice from an oldie. If it's not fantastic and it's a mess, do as sotogeoff suggests.  There are fantastic roses and other shrubs around, the sooner you get one planted the sooner you'll have something good.


Good planting time now for bare rooted varieties as well-not that we are ganging up


Of course we're not! Just passing on the experience of our own errors (in my case)



There are a few things to consider here. Are the branches that flowered growing from below the graft (a thickening of the main stem sometimes just above or below soil level). If it comes from below the graft and it is an oldish plant then it could have reverted to the root stock, probably rosa canina or dog rose (?). These days they are grafted onto apple root stock so there is no danger of these 'suckers' which are very vigorous and take energy away from the rest of the plant. The other thing to consider is as mentioned above, the danger of rose repeat disease and according to a T.V. programme about a year or so ago, you can avoid having to replace/sterilise earth by planting the new rose in a cardboard box. By the time the roots grow through it the plant is strong enough to withstand whatever causes this disease.


Is there any chance of uploading a photo so we can see, sometimes roses can look done for when they are quite well. Just might need a good pruning.


Disco, I agree!

Paul N

You say your neighbours says it's no longer the cultivated rose variety but what do YOU say? Did the flowers resemble those of the Dog Rose or did you find you had two varieties? As has been said, roses are usually grafted onto dog rose stock but sometimes suckers spring out from below where the cultivated variety was grafted on. If you can see the graft (a bulge just above soil level, and if there are branches coming out BELOW this graft, PULL them off from the main stem. What is left will be the cultivated variety. From mid-February onwards, but not when the ground is frozen, prune the entire bush. Now you can do this two ways - prune to say 3ft from soil level above a bud this year, then down to 6" to 10" next year, alternatively go straight to the 6"-10" in one go, a bit risky but it should work. Use clean, very sharp saw, loppers or secateurs, then feed the rose after pruning. Lots of lovely horse muck and if it's fresh, leave a 4" gap around the stem. Before anyone leaps in with the old fresh v well rotted argument, I've 90 roses and have never ever burned one, and they all trive on both fresh and well rotted horse muck.

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