cutting roses bush

Cutting Roses: When And How Are They Cut?

When and how do you cut roses? We show you how to proceed correctly when pruning roses and what you have to pay special attention to when pruning.
Cutting all kinds of roses ( Rosa ) is not as difficult as is often assumed. Even as a hobby gardener, with a little practice you can achieve the best possible rose pruning. To do this, you just have to observe the plants well enough or obtain information to get to know the different growth of the different types of roses and their flowering behavior. In this article, we will explain in more detail how to properly trim your roses. We will show you what to consider when cutting roses with regard to the timing and cutting technique so that your roses grow lush year after year and produce numerous blossoms.

When should you cut roses?

The rose pruning takes place in spring and only in mild weather. In unprotected locations at risk of late frost, the first cut can be postponed until May. Because frost can cause damage to the fresh interfaces and new shoots.

When to cut roses:

  • Plant pruning: It is carried out in spring (March to May), regardless of whether the rose is planted in autumn or spring.
  • Annual spring pruning: This can be done on all types of roses and is also carried out between March and May. How it is carried out depends on the growth and flowering behavior of the rose. We will clarify in detail what this means in the following paragraphs.
  • Annual summer pruning: Summer pruning is limited to removing wild shoots and withered flowers. In the latter, however, there are some differences to be found between the rose types.

Most roses are pruned in spring

Tip: A sufficient supply of potassium to your roses makes them more resistant to cold winter frosts. For example, the beauties can be strengthened with a gift of Potassium-accentuated organic rose fertilizer. Especially in lukewarm winters and sudden cold spells in spring, it is better to cover the young, sensitive shoots with winter protection.

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The correct procedure for pruning roses

You should definitely observe the following basic rules when pruning roses:

  1. Use sharp scissors for a smooth cut
  2. Always cut over an outward-facing bud or eye
  3. Cut about 5 mm above the bud or eye to avoid injuring it
  4. Place the cut surface at an angle so that water can drain off
Tip from the professional: So-called eyes are hidden, undeveloped bud systems. A side shoot can develop here. They are easy to recognize in roses: they form a kind of inverted “V” or even the spherical approach of a bud.

Plant pruning in roses

The pruning of roses should ensure good rooting and create a balance between roots and shoots. If the planting is carried out in autumn, the pruning is postponed to spring. When planting in spring, pruning can be carried out immediately. You just have to follow a few small and simple rules:

  • Root pruning: Shorten the roots to a length of about 20 – 30 cm below the grafting point. This irritation stimulates the branching of the roots and the rose will grow faster
  • In the case of shrub and wild roses, all shoots are shortened by half so that they are about 40 cm high
  • Climbing roses are pruned back to 10 eyes above the ground
  • All other roses should be trimmed to 3-5 eyes off the ground
  • When pruning plants, of course, the above rules on the correct procedure for pruning roses also applyAfter planting, almost all roses are severely shortened once

Pruning roses in spring

All roses can be pruned in spring. The following three basic rules apply to all types of roses, according to which the basic cut is carried out:

  1. Remove deadwood: Dry, frozen wood is removed close to the transition to healthy wood or, if necessary, at the base.
  2. Remove thin and diseased shoots: These rob the healthy and stronger shoots of the strength to bloom. They are completely removed at the base of the plant or at its origin on a stronger shoot.
  3. Thinning outshoots that are growing too closely: If the shoots are too close together, the one with the weaker growth or the less favorable growth direction is removed. In this way, the air circulation in the rose bush can be improved, so that rose diseases can be prevented.

Starting from this basic cut, an individual cut is then carried out for different groups of roses, which promotes good growth and abundant flowering.

Tip: The group of ground cover roses is an exception. These are not cut with this basic cut.
Sick plant parts of the rose should be removed as soon as possible
We have summarized the right cutting technique for each rose group for you:

Rose group Cut in spring
Floribunda roses Cut back to 3 – 5 eyes above the floor. Weakly developed shoots are shortened more than strongly developed ones. Extremely vigorous varieties (such as ‘Gloria Dei’) are not cut back quite as deep (6 – 9 eyes above the ground), dwarf roses very much deeper (2 – 3 eyes above the ground)
Hybrid Tea Roses Hybrid tea roses also experience a cut back to 3 – 5 eyes above the ground. Weakly developed shoots are shortened more than strongly developed ones
Shrub roses blooming once
(Flowering in July and July, then decreasing)
For shrub roses that bloom once, only the basic pruning described above is carried out. If necessary, dense or blooming shoots can be removed from the base
More often blooming shrub roses
(Flowering June – September)
In the case of shrub roses that bloom more often, lightly thinning out if necessary by removing entire shoots. Older shoots should be removed just above the ground every 4 – 5 years
Climbing roses and ramblers blooming once
(Flowering in June and July, then decreasing)
If climbing roses have bloomed once, only the basic cut described above is carried out. If necessary, dense or blooming shoots can be removed from the base
More often blooming climbing roses
(Flowering June – September)
After the first flowering in spring, the side shoots growing on the long shoots are shortened to 3 – 5 eyes. Only rotten, old long shoots are completely removed at the base. We would be happy to explain again in detail how to cut climbing roses correctly
Ground cover roses Ground cover roses do not receive an annual basic cut. Every 3 – 4 years they are shortened to a height of about 30 cm, regardless of the eyes, using a hedge trimmer
Wild roses In the case of wild roses, only the basic pruning described above is carried out. If necessary, dense or blooming shoots can be removed from the base
Old and historical roses For old and historical roses, only the basic cut described above is carried out. If necessary, dense or flowering rotten shoots are removed from the base
English roses Depending on whether the English roses bloom once or more often, they are treated in the same way as shrub roses that bloom once or more often
Tree roses The crowns of the rose stems are cut back like bed and hybrid tea roses to 3 – 5 eyes above the grafting point
Cascade roses/weeping roses Small stems with hanging shoots are treated like climbing roses that bloom once or more, depending on their flowering behavior

So that the floribunda does not grow too rampant, it has to be cut back

Cutting roses in summer: should you cut off dead roses?

No major pruning measures are carried out in summer. Only the removal of withered inflorescences has to be done during this period and every cut should be above an outward-facing eye. This summer cut promotes growth and flower formation.

Tip: If you want to keep rose hips as a bright splash of color in the garden or food for the birds, you must not cut off any faded inflorescences from roses that have bloomed once – no further flowers are formed. And even with roses that bloom more often, you should refrain from cutting the flowers in late summer.

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Recognize and remove wild shoots from roses

In the spring and summer of grafted roses – almost all garden roses – a wild shoot can grow out of the rootstock. Wild shoots can be easily recognized by their smaller, lighter leaves. In addition, they have at least seven or more leaflets on a leaflet, while grafted varieties usually have five leaflets on the leaflet.Even when cutting off the flowers, a cut is made just above one eye

Cutting roses in autumn and winter?

There is not much to do in rose care in autumn and winter. There is no pruning, mainly because pruning could stimulate the formation of new shoots. These young shoots would then be exposed to the early or late frosts without protection. However, many roses benefit greatly from winter protection. Here, the grafting area is covered with a small pile of earth, mulch, or fir branches to protect it from frost. The right fertilization is of course particularly important for winter-proof roses. For this reason, you can still fertilize with organic rose fertilizer in autumn. Its extra high potassium content ensures frost-proof plant cells and stable cell walls that are less susceptible to cold temperatures.

For all enthusiastic rose fans we have prepared a lot more expert knowledge about rose care, rose care in pots and everything you should know about the right rose fertilizer.

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