Q Why do we need to prune rose bushes?
A Roses will grow tall and lanky if left unpruned. Not only do they look less attractive but the long stems are vulnerable to being caught by the wind, causing the whole plant to rock and loosen in the soil. Pruning keeps their size in check and also allows better air circulation within the plant, which prevents common fungal diseases such as blackspot. Removing older wood will encourage the plant to produce new growth that is full of vigour and ready to produce a beautiful show of flowers.
Caption: Begin by removing any dead stems
Q When do I need to prune rose bushes?
A For rose bushes, the best time to prune is late winter when the plant is just starting to come back into growth. This is usually mid-February in the south of the country and March in the north.
Q What type of rose do I have?
A Hybrid tea These hold a single flower per stem.
Floribunda These hold their flowers in clusters.
Shrub roses These make larger plants. Modern varieties tend to be better at flowering more than once a year than older ones.
Caption: 'Port Sunlight' is an example of a shrub rose
Q How do I prune my rose bush?
A For all types, begin by removing dead, weak or crossing stems.
Hybrid tea Cut back all stems to around 15cm.
Floribunda Cut back all stems to around 30cm.
Shrub rose Cut back all stems by a third to maintain the plant's current size or by a half to reduce it. To encourage vigorous new growth, remove a couple of the oldest stems back to ground level.
Q What about climbing and rambling roses?
A Rambling roses are best pruned in August, and climbing roses from November to January.
Q What should I do after I've pruned my rose bushes?
A To encourage the plant to produce new growth after pruning, apply a rose food. Collect up any fallen rose leaves and put them in the bin instead of composting them, as they could carry fungal spores of diseases, such as blackspot.
Caption: Feed rose bushes after you prune them
Next, mulch around the plant with organic matter such as homemade compost or well-rotted manure. Put the mulch on around 5cm deep and be careful not to swamp the stems with it. Leave a gap of about 10cm between the rose stems and the mulch.
Q Should I also prune my roses bushes in autumn?
A Taller hybrid tea and floribunda plants should have their stems cut back by half in autumn to reduce the risk of them be in caught in the wind and loosening the plant in the soil during winter. Prune again as usual when they start back into growth.
Caption: Cut tall rose bushes back by half in autumn