Pruning Rose Bushes for Beautiful Flowers - Bush Roses

Pruning Rose Bushes

All rose bushes (Hybrid Tea and Floribundas) benefit from hard pruning in the spring. Rose flowers are borne on the tips of new growth and pruning back hard encourages the rose bush to send out plenty of new shoots. Pruning also encourages a better shape, with the flowers not too far from the ground! Un-pruned or 'snipped-at' roses can get to a metre or so height in 2 years, with flowers at the top of straggly growth, and lots of prickly stems totally devoid of foliage at the lower half of the rose bush.

Bush Roses and Shrub Roses

Rose Bushes and Bush Roses should not be confused with Shrub Roses. Shrub roses are totally different. Hybrid Tea and Floribunda Roses are those which are normally referred to as Bush Roses.

Rose Peace - A favourite Hybrid Tea rose, that needs regular pruning for perfect flowers

There is no secret formula for rose pruning. It is so easy to do, yet some 'gardeners' still profess that it should be done in the 'old-fashioned' (now discredited) way, of pruning to an 'outer growing bud' because this is the one that breaks into growth to give the classical rose bowl shape. Truth of the matter is, that several buds below the pruning cut - whichever way they face - break into growth. Some of them inward facing!

Generally, the Hybrid Tea type roses should be cut back a little harder than their floribunda relatives - say 6in (15cms) for the HT and 9 - 12in (22 - 30cm) for the Floribundas. Robust grower - such as Queen Elizabeth is often pruned higher. 9 - 12 in is fine for those as well.

Some of the finest rose beds that I have seen, are cut back by a hedge-trimmer each year; with scant regard as to whether on not the cut is above, below, or indeed through an outward facing bud. I have had a fair bit of flack over the years for suggesting this seemingly haphazard way of pruning.

So be it. I and several major rose growers in the UK did experiments for this type of pruning back as long ago as 1970. we all agreed at the time, that there was no problem with this type of pruning. How could we not agree? the proof was there for us to see in the flower growth that summer. If you still want to cut to an outward facing bud, then go do it - no problem!

The most important thing to remember, is that you cut your rose bush back hard, to within 30cms of the ground, into year-old green wood, or several-years-old brown wood.

  • Prune your rose bushes in March or April,
  • Use good pruners for pruning your bush roses and other shrubs.
  • Wear gloves - roses can be rather vicious
  • Be careful picking up your debris
  • Also cut out all of the dead wood of the rose bush - use a pruning saw if need be.
  • Feed the rose bush with Fish Blood Bonemeal - or any other balanced fertilizer

Job to do - what a mess!

A floribunda rose ready for pruning in Spring.

Job done! Weeding is the next job here!

The same rose after hard pruning

5 weeks on, we have this - plenty of basal growth ready to form a well-shaped framework.

and the new growth that has started on this pruned rose, just five weeks after pruning

More information about Roses

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