Rose pruning: rambling roses

Rose pruning ensures that plants grow vigorously and flower well each year. If left, rambling roses 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. These roses fall into RHS Pruning group 18.

Rose pruning: rambling roses

Quick facts

Suitable for: Rambling roses
Timing: Late summer for routine pruning; late autumn or winter for renovation
Difficulty: Moderate

Suitable for...

This method is suitable for rambling roses. Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between a climbing rose and a rambling rose. The easiest way to tell the difference is to take note of the flowering time. A climbing rose will repeat-flower almost all summer, while a rambling rose usually flowers only once, normally around June.

Deadheading can be done whenever flowers have faded unless hips are a particular feature.

Roses belonging to other groups are dealt with separately;

When to prune rambling roses

Ramblers are routinely pruned in late summer, after their show of flowers and hips.

Renovation can be carried out at any time between late autumn and late winter. It is easier to see what you are doing when the rose is not in leaf, plus there is a better response from the rose, which should grow back vigorously the following spring.

How to prune rambling roses

Rose pruning can be covered in some general tips and in more specific detail depending on the maturity of the rambler;

Formative training and pruning of ramblers

  1. After planting, prune stems back to 40cm (16in)
  2. Remove any dead, damaged or twiggy growth
  3. Carefully train the shoots by fanning them out and tie in new stems horizontally

Routine pruning of ramblers

  1. When supports have been covered, thin and shorten excessive growth by removing one in three of the oldest stems entirely
  2. If space is restricted, prune out all stems that have flowered and tie new ones in to take their place
  3. Finish by shortening side shoots by about two-thirds

Renovating overgrown ramblers

  1. Remove all dead, diseased, dying and weak shoots
  2. Cut some of the old woody branches to the ground, retaining a maximum of six young, vigorous stems that can be secured to supports
  3. Saw away any dead stumps at the base of the plant, where rain can collect and encourage rot
  4. Shorten side shoots on the remaining branches and prune back the tips by one third to one half, to encourage branching
  5. Give pruned plants a boost in the following spring by spreading a granular rose fertiliser over the soil and mulch them with a 5cm (2in) layer of garden compost or well rotted manure


Roses can suffer from a range of common rose problems, including replant disease, rose dieback, rose powdery mildew, rose black spot, rose rust, rose aphidsrose leaf rolling sawfly and rose large sawfly.

Rose blindness (lack of flowers) may be due to incorrect pruning or unsuitable growing conditions.

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