When to cut back roses

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Rose plants can be expensive initially, but the plants can continue to flourish for many years. To keep roses looking their best, pruning is essential. Read on to find out when and how to prune roses to keep them beautiful for years to come.

When should you cut back roses?

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website states the best time to prune roses generally is late winter, so February to March.

However, the optimum time to prune roses will differ depending on the types of roses you have.

Rambling roses are best pruned immediately after flowering in the summer.

Garden Design explains major pruning should usually be done in early spring after the last frost.

Alternatively, you can “let the roses tell you”, so look out for signs the roses have buds or leaf out.

In the summer months, deadheading not only removes unsightly dead flowers, but the process also encourages more roses to bloom.

After the first killing frost, Garden Design explains autumn is the time to trim longer stems to prevent them from snapping.

Garden Design add: “Keep rose bushes from being top-heavy to protect them from being uprooted in strong winds.

“Crossing branches that could be damaged by rubbing together should also be trimmed back.

“Take it easy though, as too much pruning can stimulate growth, and that new growth may be damaged by freezing weather.

“Remove any dead or diseased branches and foliage, and clean your cutting tools well to prevent transferring disease to another plant.”

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How do you prune roses?

Make sure you have the right equipment for the job when you decide to work on roses.

For equipment, you may need secateurs, pruning shears, loppers and a pruning saw.

You may also want to consider a good pair of gloves suited to this purpose, to protect your forearms and hands from the thorns.

Long thick sleeves designed for pruning can also help to protect your arms, and you should consider other protections like eyewear, a hat and jacket.

Gardeners’ World state there are some “basic principles” of pruning all gardeners should bear in mind.

Gardeners’ World explain “cutting back hard will promote the strongest growth” and light pruning will likely result in “less vigour”.

When pruning roses, you should cut to an outward-facing bud.

You should also remove closely positioned stems and dead lengths of stem which don’t have any dormant buds on them.

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