5 Essential Steps for Pruning Roses

Pruning is about more than just looks. Proper pruning improves the health of your rose bush, prevents disease and encourages better flowering. There are different pruning strategies for different times of the year, but overall the goal is always the same: keep the bush fresh and open for better air circulation through the center of the plant.

At Heirloom Roses, we use the acronym PRUNE to remember the key points of the basic pruning process. These pruning techniques apply to the most popular garden roses (e.g., hybrid teas and floribundas). Some varieties, such as climbers and ramblers, require more specialized techniques. Visit our in-depth pruning page to learn more.


Learning PRUNE

  • Prepare the plant
  • Cut the plant back so you can work safely. Hybrid teas and shrubs should be cut down to approximately waist height.
  • Remove all broken, dead, dying or diseased wood
  • Any branches that look dry, shriveled or black should be removed as they will no longer produce new growth. Healthy canes are brown or green and firm.
  • Also, remove canes that are crossing and rubbing, which can create weak spots.
  • Understand the plant
  • It’s important to understand what type of rose bush you are pruning.
  • Determine what you want the bush to look like after it grows out.
  • Shape the plant to meet your needs.
  • Make your final cuts at a 45-degree angle and about 1/4 inch above outward facing buds eyes.
  • Nothing left behind
  • Clean up all cuttings, dead leaves and other debris from around the plant. Do not compost, as this could potentially spread pathogens.
  • Leave a clean area free of material to minimize the growth of diseases.
  • Enjoy your roses
  • Enjoy the roses in your garden or cut roses and bring them inside.
  • To cut roses, cut the stem right above the first five-leaflet leaf under the flower.
    Immediately place the cut stem into a clean bucket of lukewarm water.