Prune Roses In April

Rose bushes benefit greatly from spring pruning. That’s nice information, but when you’re facing a rose bush with pruning shears in hand, where exactly do you cut?

The best season for pruning rose bushes is spring, rather than fall, because fall pruning leaves unhealed cuts exposed to frigid temperatures all winter, which can cause greater branch dieback. April is a good month for rose pruning after winter’s worst temperatures are past, and before roses begin to leaf out.

Why prune roses? Most roses bloom most prolifically on fresh new growth. Old, woody, less vigorous canes don’t flower as abundantly. Pruning stimulates and forces rose bushes to burst forth with fresh new growth capable of better bloom. In the first 2 seasons after planting, roses can be left unpruned, if desired, because growth is still relatively fresh and capable of good flowering. But after that, pruning is important for continued strong bloom.

Principles of pruning are generally the same, whether roses are hardy shrub types or tender hybrid teas.

Here’s how to prune:

  • Prune all dead or winter-injured canes, down to the base, or down to live tissue. Live portions versus dead portions are easily recognized.

    Winter injured portions are brown-black. Live canes, or portions, are green.
  • Old, less-productive canes growing in the middle of the shrub can be removed to ground level.
  • Remove canes that crowd or crisscross, so the bush is more open in the center to increase airflow and sunshine penetration.
  • Prune out weak, thin canes pencil-size in diameter.
  • Reduce height by cutting back by one-half or two-thirds.
  • Make pruning cuts above out-ward facing buds.
  • Make pruning cuts at a 45-degree slant about 1/4 inch above the bud, slanted away from the bud.

Happy Rose Growing!