Pruning roses: when is the best time to do it?

Pruning roses: when is the best time to do it?

Roses are some of the most beautiful blooming flowers you could grow in your garden. But with that stunning floral beauty comes a lot of responsibility as a gardener. In order to develop to their maximum potential, roses need attention and regular rose pruning. 

The thing you need to remember about pruning, though, is the timing. Random pruning can hurt your roses and make them vulnerable to damage and welcoming to external aggressors. To avoid that you need to know when to prune roses and keep up with a regular trimming schedule.

Check out our article and learn all you need to know about the pruning criteria and the right time to prune roses:


Why do we prune roses?

For garden-grown roses, pruning intervention is vital. Allows you to take control over how large and thick, and what shape rose bushes grow. At the same time, pruning roses encourages flowering, stimulates new growth, elongates lifespan and improves the overall well-being of your plants. 

And while roses can survive without pruning maintenance, leaving them to fend for themselves would not be a reasonable thing to do for your garden. The main reason we prune roses is to inspire health, optimum growth and keep up a neat appearance.



The first and most important reason to prune roses is to keep the flowers healthy. The process of pruning roses might seem like a tedious gardening task but it encourages bloom production, keeps pests at bay and boosts rose growth.

Pruning is essential to rose bush health because it trims dead, withered and infected canes off the plant. That prevents infestation and spread of diseases, and triggers the forming of new buds at the base. 



In a way, pruning roses makes your garden look more colourful, welcoming and presentable. After all, healthy roses bloom more and are way more beautiful than neglected ones. 

There is also a way to further accentuate the neat appearance of your flower garden. While pruning, try to trim and shape up the bushes to make them look even more attractive and eye-catching. 


How often to prune roses?

Knowing when to prune roses is important, but it is also essential to know how often to repeat the cutting procedure. Every gardener with experience would advise you to prune roses at least once a year to keep rose bushes in good condition. 

The standard annual pruning time depends on the type of roses in your yard and their blooming cycle. Except for the once-a-year cut, roses can also benefit from a quick maintenance trim when needed.

A light rose pruning in summer (to cut off faded blooms) will do wonders for your plants and make your garden look clean, neat and presentable. At the same time, it preps your roses for a lavish autumn blooming season.

Another valid reason to prune roses more than once a year would be if your rose bushes become a target for pest infestation or get a disease. Avoid that by inspecting your plants regularly and cutting off diseased parts immediately when you see serious damage.

How to know if it’s time for pruning?

The rule of thumb

Spring is considered the best time to prune roses. 


From late February to April, most roses are dormant and the weather is not too harsh to cause serious damage to freshly-cut plants. The timing is also perfect to boost new growth and encourage flowering right before the blooming season. 

Even though that is valid for most rose varieties, not all types of roses have the same needs and demands in terms of pruning. 

When it comes to finding the right time to prune your rose bushes, here is what to have in mind:

  • If you grow roses that flower many times during the blooming season, the best time for rose pruning is once the new green buds start to break;
  • If roses in your garden are once-a-season bloomers, the most adequate time to prune them would be right after the flowering stage.


Since new shoots are very sensitive to cold, it’s better to start pruning roses after the last frost. Depending on the local weather conditions, the optimal pruning time in spring could be extended to May. 


More specific pruning criteria

Check the buds 

Any professional gardener could confirm that checking the buds is the best way to determine when to prune roses. In springtime, when new buds emerge, start to green up and begin to swell, it is time for rose pruning. 

Know the needs of your type of rose

Another way to judge if it’s time for rose pruning is to acknowledge the specific needs of the bloomers in your garden. 

Climbing roses

Always prune climbing roses severely after their flowering period. Not only because they are one-time spring bloomers but also because their finest shoots grow off on at least one-year-old stems. 

Prune old wood and weak stems in sections, but leave six or seven strong healthy canes. Doing that ensures next year your rose flowers would be able to grow on the fresh stems you left during this year’s rose pruning.


Hybrid Teas, Grandifloras & Floribundas

The best time to prune reblooming roses is in early spring. After the last winter frost, the first indicator you need to grab the pruning shears is when you notice the rosebuds start swelling. Prune all canes, except three to five healthy ones. Leave the most vigorous stems untouched.

Old Garden Roses

The good thing about old garden roses is they do not need as much rose pruning as most modern varieties. Moreover, when growing old garden roses, hard pruning should be totally out of the question because it could decrease their flowering potential and ruin their shape.

One of the best ways to preserve old garden roses in their optimum condition is to do a light trim immediately after the blooming season. Cut only the oldest unproductive stems and prune individual rose bushes no more than a third of the size of each bush. That keeps the roses lively and easy to manage. 


Miniature roses

One of the reasons gardeners love miniature roses is they do not need hard pruning. In fact, everblooming roses need just a light trim a few times throughout the year. If you think the miniature roses don’t require serious cutting, you can just prune the tips, so new growth can thrive. 

Have in mind the climate in your area

Local climate also plays a major role in determining when is the best time to prune roses. And while there are specific rules that are valid in general, pruning time can depend on what part of the UK you reside in and the weather conditions in your area.

If the last winter frost comes early in your region, it is safe to start pruning roses in February and early March, as the rule of the thumb states. However, sometimes due to weather circumstances you might need to delay rose pruning. 

In the South and the coastal regions, late February is considered a good time to start pruning roses. As for the mountain areas, the best pruning time is around mid-April. If you live in the North, it is better to delay the healthy trim until March. 


pink roses

What happens if you skip pruning your roses?

Rose pruning is an extremely important garden maintenance task. Not only it is beneficial to the health of the plants but also allows the gardener to inspect their rose plants for weather harm, diseases and pest infestations.

Missing a pruning session is not a big deal, as long as you prune the roses soon after. Skipping pruning selectively, over and over again, actually weakens the plants. It makes them predisposed to weather damage, overgrowth, weeding and diseases.

And while most roses would not suffer great consequences from irregular rose pruning, some roses might not be able to bounce back to health for a long time.


Diseases and pests

Neglecting a rose garden is one of the crucial mistakes a gardener could make. One of the most serious problems from skipping the pruning process is making rose bushes a big target to plant diseases and pests. The unattended plants are not only attractive to harmful insects but are also able to spread even a minor infection to nearby healthy roses in no time.

With roses that have infected or weak parts and are in need of an urgent trim, the risk of contamination with mildew, blackspot and other fungal diseases is higher. That is because these types of bacteria thrive in moist rose bushes, left to tend for themselves.

If you ignore pruning for a long period, even minor weather and seasonal changes will start affecting your plants’ health. Eventually, some of your rose plants might die. That is why it is super helpful to keep up with a steady pruning schedule for your blooming garden.

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