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Rose Pruning Advice

Summer Pruning/Deadheading
Rose pruning is very easy and not to be feared, always use a sharp & clean pair of bypass (Scissor action) bladed secateurs, we strongly recommend Swiss made Felco No 2 Secateurs available from our website.

‘Anvil’ secateurs (have only 1 sharp cutting blade) are not recommended for roses other than the removal of very thick dead stems only if needed as these have a crushing action on the stems which will leave the pruned stem damaged and open to infection/further die-back.

After your rose blooms have finished flowering and just before petal fall, prune 3 or 4 leaves down below the flower head where the stem is thick and strong to an outward-facing bud just above a leaf which will help create and open airey structure of stems both to give a later well-balanced display of flowers and reduce the risk of rose diseases by allowing greater passage of air through the rose plant, summer pruning/deadheading then triggers a strong new stem and flower(s), typically it takes a modern rose 4-6 weeks to re-flower after Deadheading and these flushes of bloom will continue with repeated Deadheading until frosts and winter weather send the rose into dormancy for the winter months.

Check your roses regularly throughout the year for stem dieback (yellow, brown or black stems) and prune off any dead or diseased brown stems and wood immediately to prevent further damage or the complete death of your rose if you allow the dieback to travel all the way down the stems to the base of the rose.

Completely removing to base, very old and gnarly stems (some older stems healthy stems should be left intact each year) and general hard winter pruning as described below coupled with feeding your roses at least twice a year in Spring and mid-summer with Empathy Afterplant Rose food (3 times in containers) will help greatly to promote new basal shoots each year which will help greatly both lengthen the longterm life of your rose and be less prone to future infection from diseases.

Winter Pruning
The main pruning of garden roses requires completion in the winter as the roses start to drop their leaves, stop flowering and go into dormancy for the winter months and before re-shooting occurs with warmer weather, this task should be completed every year during November/December for Midlands & South counties, January/Late February for North of England and Scotland. Delaying this main pruning to March and beyond as recommended by so many so called ‘Rose Experts’ & Garden TV presenters, following old traditional Rose advice from more than a 100 years ago (pre-global warming), will simply delay your roses from flowering in the following summer by up to 6 weeks!

Excluding Climbing Roses, Rambling Roses & Weeping Standard Roses, be hard with your winter pruning, typically removing half to two-thirds of the growth down to the recommended stated heights below for each Type of Rose, prune to just above a leaf on an outward facing bud on strong thicker stems, remove completely any weak spindly stems or growth and any stems showing signs of stem die-back which will be turning Yellow, Brown or Black, depending on the stage of infection these decaying stems need cutting down and removal to where the stems are healthy below, if the dead growth has travelled all the way down to the base of the stem, they should be completed cut out immediately at the very base of the stem leaving no infected growth whatsoever. Healthy stems when pruned will display a white central core in the stem at the cutting point of where you have just pruned, if the stem core is brown or black at the pruning point you need to continue pruning lower down as the stem at this point is either dead or dying.

Recommended Winter Pruning heights:
Hybrid Tea & Floribunda – Prune back to 30cm height
Patio – Prune back to 15cm
Shrub & David Austin ‘English’ – Prune back to 60cm
Rambling – Prune to shape as required, a heavy hack back every 3-5 years will help to remove a build up of dead wood in the main central growth. Single-season flowering rambling roses (e.g Rambling Rector, Veilchenblau) require their main annual pruning immediately after flowering as unlike repeat rambling roses, blooms are formed on the previous years growth.
Climbing – Train laterally, tie in and keep main stems permanently unless die-back occurs (remove infected stems to base of stem or where healthy), these main trained stems will produce long summer flowering shoots which require winter pruning to 5cm from the main stems
Hybrid Tea & Floribunda Standards – Flowering head, prune back to 30cm
Patio Standards – Flowering head, prune back to 30cm
Weeping Standards – Prune to shape, remove dead & diseased wood when seen, hack back hard every 3-5 years to remove a build-up of weak or diseased growth and encourage new stronger basal stems.

Climbing Roses These will need support using wires or trellis. Initially train the branches horizontally, fanning them out in left & right direction, tying in the growth using soft string to create a framework and help keep leaves and blooms lower down in the later years. After 2-3 years the rose should reach full maturity and height, prune back your rose to desired height after flowering following this stage. In following years side stems will shoot from the main trained branches and these should be pruned back to 5cm from main stems in winter.

Patio Climbing/Repeat Flowering Ramblers These grow best in large obelisks, rose arches or when planted in front of brick pillars or narrow trellis. Tie in new growth with soft string. No hard winter pruning required, shape as desired.

Traditional Single Flowering Rambling Roses Plant and let go, these work best growing into trees & tall hedges or over large structures & pagoda’s- some initial support and tying in may well be require. Unlike other roses, the main pruning of single flowering Ramblers should be completed in the summer just after flowering has finished as ramblers flower on previous years growth.

Weeping Standards Should be lightly pruned to desired shape & checked regularly for any stem die-back. Hard prune back every 3-5 years in winter to remove a build up of weak, thin or diseased stems.

When is it too late to prune roses?
It is never too late to prune roses, it is not going to harm the plant in any way other than late pruning will delay the first flush of flowers by up to 6 weeks if you prune later than we advise.

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