Why Prune Roses?

The aim is to improve flowering, to maintain an attractive shape and to keep plants healthy. But mention pruning roses and many people come up in a cold sweat, considering it to be difficult and complicated. This is largely because there are many different types of rose, some which need pruning in the spring and others later in the year.

Choose the right approach

Shrub roses

  • Prune in mid-spring. First remove dead, diseased and dying branches, and thin out if overcrowded – remove any crossing branches and cut a few older stems to the base.
  • Reduce healthy main stems by about a quarter.
  • Unless you want to keep the hips, deadhead flowers as they fade in summer.
  • Roses in this group include – R.Macmillan Nurse, R.Graham Thomas and Rosa rugosa ‘Alba’.

Bush roses (includes, hybrid tea, floribunda and patio roses)

  • Prune in mid-spring. First remove dead, diseased and dying branches. Prune most by about half, cutting to within 8cm (3in) of the previous year’s growth.
  • Miniature roses only need pruning to maintain an attractive shape and if you want a larger floribunda, prune less severely.
  • Roses in this group include – Rosa Iceberg, R.’Princess of Wales’, R.Ingrid Bergman and R.Peace.


  • Prune in the autumn after the flowers start to fade. First remove dead, diseased or dying branches.
  • Tie in any new shoots and remove any really old branches if the plant is heavily congested – this will stimulate new growth.
  • Prune side branches growing from the main framework, cutting them back to leave two to three leaf buds.
  • Roses in this group include – R.Handel, R.’New Dawn’ andR.filipes ‘Kiftsgate’.


  • Prune in late summer.
  • Cut back any side branches that have flowered, leaving two to three leaf buds per shoot.
  • If the plant has not been pruned for some time, select a few old woody branches and cut to the base, new shoots will soon grow and can be tied in to the framework.
  • Roses in this group include include – R.’Albertine’, R.’Félicité Perpétue’ and R.’The Garland’.

Ground cover roses

  • Prune in spring.
  • Remove dead, diseased or dying branches, and lightly prune to keep within bounds.
  • Reduce congestion on old plants by removing some of the thick branches to stimulate new growth.
  • Roses include – county series, R.Magic Carpet and R.Pink Bells.


  • Once pruning has been completed, mulch plants generously, applying a thick layer of well-rotted manure or bark chippings.