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From the team at Gardeners' World Magazine
Pruning a rose

When to prune roses

Published: Wednesday, 8 January, 2020 at 9:02 am

We reveal when to prune the different types of roses, including climbers and ramblers.

Roses come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be a little confusing when it comes to how and when to prune them.

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Most roses are quite vigorous, so pruning is necessary to stop them from becoming gangly and leggy. It also promotes strong, fresh growth that will carry flowers.

Ultimately, roses are tough plants, so don't panic if you've pruned at the wrong time of year – you're unlikely to have done any damage and they'll grow back with gusto.

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Discover how and when to prune roses, below.

Species roses (including gallicas, centifolias, bourbons and albas)

When: September to March.

How: Bushy species roses can be cut back with shears in autumn, taking off a quarter of the current year's growth. Prune out any dead, damaged or diseased stems you spot in late winter or early spring, when they're easier to identify. Watch Monty prune a species rose.

Striated dark and light pink rose 'Versicolor'
Striated dark and light pink rose 'Versicolor'

Shrub roses (including hybrid teas and floribundas)

When: November to March.

How: Prune out any dead, damaged or diseased stems. To maintain the current size of the plant, prune all stems back by a third, cutting just above a healthy leaf node. You can cut back more or less drastically depending on whether you want to reduce the size of your rose, or let it get taller.

Cutting back a rose stem to just above a sprouting node
Cutting back a rose stem to just above a sprouting node

Climbing roses

When: September to March.

How: Let climbers grow for a few years after planting before you prune them. You can prune in winter, but autumn pruning will help prevent windrock. Cut back the sideshoots to leave two healthy leaves. If you spot a strong stem that can be tied in horizontally, do so to encourage more lateral growth, which will bear flowers.

Pruning a climbing rose sideshoot
Pruning a climbing rose sideshoot

Rambling roses

When: August to September or February to March.

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How: Prune ramblers right after they've flowered. Cut sideshoots back to four healthy buds. Then prune out any dead, damaged or diseased stems. If you want to enjoy the hips save your pruning for late winter or early spring. Avoid pruning the current year's growth, as this will carry next year's flowers.

Pruning a rambling rose
Pruning a rambling rose

Clearing away foliage

While pruning in autumn, it's good practice to clear away the old foliage and remove any leaves that still remain on the plants, as they can harbour the spores of diseases like rose black spot. Destroy these and don't compost them. A layer of mulch spread around the base of your roses will help prevent recurrent attacks.
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