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How to Prune Roses

Don’t let the task of pruning your roses become daunting. It’s really very easy with the aim being simply to keep the centre of the bush fairly open and airy by removing overcrowded canes.

First of all remove all dead wood including stumps left from previous pruning, then any weak and twiggy growth. Snip off any stick-like twigs that sprout from the main stems as these twigs only produce a few scraggy leaves if left.

Next cut back damaged canes to a healthy bud. If a cane appears brown in the centre this could be a sign of ‘die back’ so simply cut down bud by bud until you reach healthy white wood.

If two canes are crossing or rubbing together one of the pair is removed or shortened to stop this happening.

Now the remaining canes are cut back by half to one third of their length and you are finished! Ideally, all cuts should be about 6mm above the bud, preferably to an outside one, at an angle sloping downwards.

Standard roses are pruned in the same way but try to create a more even shape and cut the canes a little shorter. A standard rose is simply a bush rose grafted onto a 90cm stem.

Climbers with their unwieldy canes that sprawl in all directions can present a fearful task. However, simply select and tie horizontally, on each side of the plant, four or five good canes and cut the rest out. Trim all the side shoots on these canes to two or three buds and this will give you a wonderful display all along the stems with the perfume at nose level. If the canes are left to reach for the sky their blooms and fragrance will only flutter at the very top as well.

Many rambler roses flower summer only and usually flower on new canes produced after flowering. Therefore remove the canes that flowered last summer and tie the long new canes in their place. Cut the old canes out right down at the base of the plant to encourage new growth for next year. In spring snip back the tips of climbing and rambling roses as the ends usually fail to ripen and flowers are never produced from these soft tips.