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I am a very amateur been keen to learn gardener. The rose plant in the front garden is very old (c. 60 yrs possibly), thorny and leggy. I want to prune it so it looks healthy, less thorny and beautiful but I don't know what to do. Is there anything I can do at this point in the summer? Any advice appreciated.

many thanks

photos provided. 


The problem is that it hasn't been pruned well and has grown to be too 'leggy' so leaves and flowers are now only high up.  When flowering is over you can cut it back by about a third to half to prevent wind damage over winter.  In about March next year, cut it back to about knee height.  It will grow new stems and be less leggy.

Absolutely and after the March Pruning feed with Blood Fish Bone or a propriety Rose fertiliser hoe it into the ground. Then Mulch well it will love it & reward you well.


first reduce the whole plant by half now. this will encourage side and basal shoots.

also you can remove the largest branch you can find to the lowest youngest looking branch (young shoots look green, old ones look brown), then next year you can remove the other oldest branch.

then give it a good feed with a rose fertilizer

Thanks all. Hopefully that will help. Are the multiple thorny thorns just a fact if life for an older plant?



I think I have the same one as you. The older stems are a lot thornier but I think it's to do with the variety more than the age.

When a long branch has finished flowering, I prune it back to just above a bud that is pointing in the right direction. I do this throughout the flowering season.

I have a neighbour who has 6 very old tall leggy rose bushes. ......I know his wife died shortly after I moved here, almost 5 years ago,   I was wondering would it be too cheeky to offer to cut them back for him or should I just mind my own business and say/do nothing?  

Advice please. 

Last edited: 18 August 2017 15:47:16


Have you got any roses of your own?  If so, when you're about to prune yours could you pop your head over the fence and say something like "I'm just going to give my roses a good seeing to and a dose of fertiliser... would you like me to do the same to yours while I'm about it?"

A mug of tea and a slice of home made cake and a discussion about  gardening, and a neighbour can become a friend 

Dove. .....he lives in the house about 6 doors away. chatting over the fence wouldn't work.   He's quite elderly. .....but it's obvious that at some time his garden was well minded and loved.   I'm in 2 minds as to what to wouldn't take much to bring his roses back to their former beauty. 


Then if he's at all approachable I'd pop around with a large wedge of coffee and walnut sponge ( most gentlemen of a certain age are very amenable when given coffee & walnut sponge, I find ) and explain that you're a slightly bonkers gardener who would love to prune his roses. 

Whats the worst that can happen?  He can tell you to go away.  The best that can happen is that you make him smile ... No contest in my book 

plant pauper

"love to prune his roses"

...or help him to prune his roses. Men are funny creatures even with cake.  

"I'll give you a hand if you like..." That kind of thing.

Good luck.

plant pauper says:

"love to prune his roses"

...or help him to prune his roses. Men are funny creatures even with cake.  

"I'll give you a hand if you like..." That kind of thing.

Good luck.

See original post

 Good point!  You're obviously a bit more tactful than me Pp 

Thanks for the advice dove and plant pauper. ....I have decided to offer to help him.....

plant pauper

HaHa! Hardly Dove. I just work with a lot of big egos or should that be EGOS!!!! Well dare I suggest that they are incapable of the simplest task!!!  




Good luck Mary ... let us know how you get on 



I'm thinking the very thorny stems are suckers from below the graft point. It might be easier to take hardwood cuttings from higher up, and start a new plant on its own roots. I think if you cut the main stem down too low, you may lose it, and just end up with a flowering rootstock.


I cut down the obvious brown/dead stems, and when flowers have finished cut them down as well. I find that I get new growth then flower buds appearing. I think I would cut down the really thorny stems in your pictures and also any stems that are crossing and check from different angles that its a shape that you were after.


Personally, I would call time on that rose and remove it, planting something easier to manage in its place...

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