When to Prune Roses – A few tips

Pruning tools for rosesIt’s often tricky to decide what is the best time to start pruning your roses.

When to prune roses depends on so many things: the weather, the location, the variety of rose and so on.

But as a rule of thumb,  I generally wait till the end of July until the danger of late frosts is past. During July, you never can be quite sure of the weather.

The problem with pruning too early is that the new growth is very tender and frost can kill off all the baby leaf shoots overnight and that would be a setback for the rose bush, causing die-back and a host of other problems.

Optimally, it’s best to prune just before the roses feel the first growing surge of spring.  As you know, gardening has a lot to do with feeling!

Meanwhile, I’ll sniff the air and wait for the first whiff of spring to alert me to “spring” into action!

But right now it’s a good time to sharpen shears, take out my elbow-length pruning gloves and check my rose bushes for fattening leaf buds on the canes.

Fattening Leaf Buds

A rose leaf bud starting to swell

A rose leaf bud starting to fatten

As soon as you see the leaf buds starting to swell it means that they are getting ready to burst into young leaves.

I don’t really go by dates.  Some gardeners insist that you should be pruning roses by the 15th of July. But I think it’s more important to take a close look at the conditions in your own garden.

If your rose bushes still look as if they are in deep hibernation then it’s a pity to wake them up so ruthlessly!  It’s much better to wait until they show signs of stirring.

Also I still have plenty to do because we have a lot of compost at the bottom of the garden from last year’s leaves so I will be incorporating some of that into the garden beds.

What about a gardening service for pruning?

Every year we somehow collect a few more rose bushes. The result is that it’s becoming more and more difficult to prune them all.

This year I have been thinking about asking a gardening service to do my pruning.  But the problem is that I’m so fussy about my roses that I don’t know if I can trust anyone to prune my roses for me.

The idea would be to try to find a pruning expert I can trust – which isn’t always possible. The problem is, even if I could find such an expert, I know I would hover around suspiciously and offer my unwanted advice while trying to disguise my anxiety!

Light Pruning

I prefer to prune lightly. I know there’s a school of thought that advises heavy pruning. These people like shorter bushes so that the roses are easier to reach for picking – but that is a matter of choice, I suppose.

I don’t like to make the rose bushes suffer more than is necessary. I think they need a strong infrastructure to prepare themselves for the new growing season.

I like big rose bushes that look happy and healthy rather than the chopped-down versions that have to battle so hard to send out new canes.

If you have any preferences about rose pruning do share your experience and knowledge here! There is always something to learn.