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How to prune roses

How hard should one prune a rose?

much harder than most gardeners expect!


Yes, this is what a well-pruned rose should look like!


Jaws were on the floor at one of our rose pruning demonstrations last year, when members watched Finbar O’Leary from Swanes Nursery pruning a rose.*{insert hyperlink to the rose pruning demo} Finbar went hard, pruning a hybrid tea back to just three stubs. Many in our group decided they needed to go straight home and do a second round of cuts on what they had thought were well-pruned bushes!

Winter is the season to grab tools – and courage! – in both hands and get into the roses. To help you out here are some of the questions we are asked most often about pruning hybrid tea roses, whether they are bush grown or grown as standards:


Kordes Jubilee


Can I skip pruning?`

You can, the rose will keep growing, but become spindlier and produce fewer flowers.

What if my roses are still flowering in late winter?

Prune anyway, and collect the last blooms for the vase.

What if I prune too late?

It’s not lethal, but you’ll be pruning off new shoots, which wastes the plant’s energy and sets back its spring flowering schedule.


Just Joey


How much should I prune?

At the very least cut out crossing, sick and spindly branches and cut remaining branches back by two-thirds. Or take the Finbarr Option and cut everything back to three main branches, 30cm above ground level. It’s also a good idea to remove the oldest, thickest, most unproductive stem at ground level, allowing the rose to continually renew itself.

How should I cut?

Make the cut a finger-width above a bud or node and angle the cut so that water can’t sit on the cut surface. Choosing an outward-facing node helps to keep the centre of the bush open, reducing disease risk.


Mr Lincoln


Should I feed the same day?

We wait for a few weeks until the soil has warmed and the rose is starting to put on new growth. But we do condition the soil around the rose after pruning, using seaweed solution.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the rose pictured here is ‘Jubilee’, named the 25th anniversary of its breeder Kordes.

To watch an expert in action, book one of our rose pruning classes at Swanes Nursery. There’s one at Dural on Friday July 8 and one at Sylvania on Saturday July 9. Call 1300 133 100 to book.


About this article

Author: Linda Ross