Roses are surprisingly easy to prune, in fact it can be one of the most satisfying jobs of the year.
The majority of roses are pruned in winter, the exceptions being rambling type roses that are not repeat
flowering. These include the banksias rose and the cultivars, Albertine, Wedding Day and New Dawn.
These varieties are best pruned straight after flowering as they flower on growth formed the previous
To begin with, make sure you have the appropriate tools; good secateurs, loppers and a pruning saw for
larger growth. Begin by removing dead and diseased wood, and up to 1/3 of the old growth. Cut back as
close as possible to the growth you are keeping. This removal encourages the development of strong
new growth that gets cycled through every 3-4 years. This way your rose remains ever young! This is
true of any type of rose that you are pruning. Make sure you disinfect your tools between plants to
ensure you don’t pass on any diseases or pests. Wipe with methylated spirits to do this. From here the
methods of pruning change.
The new school of thought on pruning shrub or bush roses is to reduce the growth by 1/2 to 2/3. Trim
to a rounded silhouette. The main difference between this and the old school of thought, is that you
don’t remove the smaller twigs and it is not necessary to prune back to an outward facing bud. This
results in a very bushy plant with a large foliage mass that is shown to result in prolific blooming, though
bloom size may be reduced. This is particularly effective with floribunda, groundcover and miniature
roses. This type of pruning can often be carried out with a good pair of hedge shears and has been
adopted by many of the top rose producers across Australia.
The traditional method of pruning requires reduction of growth by 1/2 to 2/3. Thin out the centre
branches and any growth thinner than a pencil to allow good ventilation through the centre of the rose.
Prune to a healthy outward facing bud. Essentially you’re trying to achieve an open vase shape. This
results in sparser, more open bush, with fewer but larger flowers. This method particularly suits if you
are growing roses for picking.
Climbing roses are not as daunting to prune as most people think. The easiest way to approach it is as
follows. Think of the larger, thicker branches as the framework or foundation of the rose. These require
little or no pruning if they are growing in the right position. Just remove approximately 1/3 of them each
year to encourage new growth from the base that will become the new framework. The smaller branches
that arise from the framework should be cut back to about 5 buds. These become flower spurs. More of
these flowering spurs will arise if you train branches in a horizontal manner.
Reduce the head of the plant by 1/2 to 2/3, cutting back to a healthy bud, removing any crossing branches.
Remove some of the older stems to encourage new growth. The most important thing is to retain a nice
ball effect when you step back and look at your handiwork.
Following winter pruning it is advisable to spray your roses with lime-sulphur. This is known as a winter
spray and is used to help control pest and diseases. Horticultural oil can also be applied a few weeks later
to control scale and other pests.
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