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Where do I start?

Remember all the planning you did

before you took a trip?

This page is like that...

Let's change the mystery of rose pruning...

to its mastery...

Below are  really important things you should know before you start to prune.


Pruning Roses

The Anatomy of a Rose

How a Rose Grows

 General Tips for Pruning

About tools

In the Spring, when the Forsythia blooms and new buds begin to swell on the rose canes, it's time to  prune your roses. (If you don't have a Forsythia nearby, then in early to mid-April, or the temperature is a consistent 13C or 55F, and the budeyes are swelling... go for it)

Rose pruning is pretty simple if you remember a rose is  just a shrub with flowers.

Use sharp, clean Bypass secateurs or pruners - (blades by-pass one another and make a clean cut).

Anvil “pruners have one blade meeting a stationary edge and can crush the stem leaving it open to disease or insects. These work best for dead wood..


Here's what works for me...

Please don't use electric hedge trimmers to prune roses. They tear, split and damage canes - sometimes beyond saving.

Jagged pruning cuts
Split Rose Canes

When the Forsythia Blooms....

Forsythia blooms

Oops, wait..don't start just because you have a pair of sharp pruners and the Forsythia is blooming.  

Pruning roses is simple - but -

Instead of learning how to prune Tea Roses, or Floribundas specifically,

Learn How Roses Grow.

- it'll be easier to see how to prune them

NOTE: Keep the tags with your rose's name. They won’t help you prune because they only give their growth habit (such as ground cover, shrub etc.) but not how they grow.

BTW-I hope you didn't prune your roses in the fall !!! 

Leave the canes standing at least 3 feet tall in the Autumn so all that green (nutrients) can go down to feed the roots keeping them strong in cold winters.


Rose Anatomy

For more details, definitions and sketches,


and find out about bud-eyes, basal breaks, suckers, leaflets, rose hips and more...

Rose Leaflets

Rose leaflets

When the Forsythia blooms in Spring, look for those tiny bud-eyes that begin to show dark red up the sides of the rose canes.  

Rose Bud-eye emerging

Above: Emerging bud-eye

Rose Bud-eye Emerged

Above: Emerged bud-eye

Even though you'll prune according to


you should

ALWAYS start with the 4D’s 

Dead (brown; brittle)

Diseased (mottled brown and green)

Dying (brown or grey)

Damaged (broken, torn ,split)

Then cut below the "D" back to just above a healthy bud-eye.

New roses or trans-plants:

prune only the 4D’s for first year.

Rose-Dying Cane

Dying Rose cane - cut to healthy bud-eye


Rose Pruning-bad cuts

A cut made too high (top left) can cause necrosis where the cane keeps dying back. Cut (prune) back to a healthy bud-eye.

The split on the right, is from dull pruners and will also cause the cane to die back or be open to disease or insects. 

Cut back to a healthy bud-eye

Rose Pruning more bad cuts

Cut these dying or dead canes back to healthy buds - see black lines on both sketches

Rose Pruning bad cuts again
Rose canes - dead

In this sketch above, prune the large, dead centre cane back to the lowest green side shoots. Also prune off small dead branches carefully close to the main cane.

Rose pruning cut guide

Photo- Gail Trimble

The Fairy Rose blooms


Astrid Lingrin Rose bloom

The lovely Astrid Lindgren - a glorious Floribunda rose.

(Rose Trees are different )

For other pruning - like trees and shrubs, go here

REMEMBER; Pruning roses is not that difficult once you begin.  And, if you make a mistake, there is a whole season to recover.

You can do this !!

Take it one stem at a time…. Take your music to your garden along with your tea, and start pruning.

...my favourite books...

... on planting, growing and pruning roses, is by Paul Zimmerman called

"Everyday Roses"  


"Roses Without Chemicals"

by Peter E. Kukielski







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