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Rose pruning ensures that plants grow vigorously and flower well each year. If left unpruned, bush roses such as hybrid teas (large-flowered) and floribundas (cluster-flowered) can become a tangled mess of branches with very few flowers. Although often considered complicated, rose pruning is not difficult if you follow this guide. Such roses fall into RHS Pruning groups 15 and 16.
This method is suitable for all bush roses, whether they are hybrid teas or floribundas. If you have a bush rose, and don’t know what type it is, the best way to tell is by looking at the flowering habit.
Both types are repeat-flowering. Hybrid tea roses, (also called large-flowered roses) usually have only one flower per stem and tend to flower in three flushes from summer to late autumn. Floribundas (also called cluster-flowered roses) have many flowers per stem and tend to repeat-flower continuously from summer to late autumn.
If you inherit an overgrown rose and don’t know what type it is (and don’t want to wait until summer when it flowers), it is best to prune as for a hybrid tea.
Roses can be pruned during late winter when growth is just resuming, usually in mid-February in the south, but in northern and colder areas wait until March.
Floribunda roses (cluster-flowered) and hybrid teas (large-flowered) are pruned following largely similar techniques. The only difference is that floribunda stems are left longer with more buds on them to form the characteristic mass of flowers while hybrid teas are pruned low to promote vigorous new shoots.
To start with, cut out dead, diseased, rubbing and crossing stems. If the bush is crowded cut out some old shoots completely to keep the centre open.
Then proceed as for hybrid tea or floribunda roses, as follows:
Guidance on pruning other types of roses can be found on separate pages;
Wear gloves when handling thorny roses and keep a watch when you are pruning for the following pests or diseases while pruning; rose aphids, rose large sawfly, rose leaf rolling sawfly, rose black spot, rose dieback, rose powdery mildew and rose rust.Blindness (lack of flowers) can also be a problem in roses.
RosesRoses: choosing the bestRoses: growing in containersRoses: plantingRose pruning: general tipsRoyal National Rose Society
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In this fully revised edition, you’ll find updated advice by the RHS experts on what, when and how to prune.
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