Crossing branches removal achieves compact rose shape

10 quick and easy steps to a successful rose pruning.

Roses are one of the most popular flowering plants across the globe today. Their cultivation began about five thousand years ago in ancient China and popularity of them even increased during medieval times in Europe. 


But the rose maintenance is not an easy task and can often lead to confusion, especially when it comes to pruning. 


Well-pruned rose should not become top-heavy in the upcoming season, this would only lead to its stems collapsing. Instead, we will aim to achieve a U or a v shape making pruning as easy a task as possible.

Well pruned roses
Well pruned roses

When should I prune roses?

Personally, I live in an area where temperature rarely drops below zero, and I often prune roses in late autumn or early spring, but, this does not apply to all climate zones.


As a general rule, we advise to prune roses after the last frosts have passed. By doing this you will avoid any potential wilting of a new growth if you prune them too early.


Before you start pruning your roses, you should ensure you have the correct protective, such as long sleeves and heavy-duty gloves. Furthermore, the pruners or secateurs should be disinfected and sharp, to ensure the cleanest possible cut.


10 steps to successful rose pruning.


  • Cutting back.
  • Removal of dead wood.
  • Removal of dying wood.
  • Removal of diseased wood.
  • Removal of damaged wood.
  • Removal of crossing branches.
  • Removal of any branches pointing towards the centre of the plant.
  • Removal of any weak branches.
  • Cut back last season’s growth.
  • If applicable, remove any remaining leaves, particularly the infected ones.


Cutting back.

This is a very easy step and doesn’t require any technicality. We recommend removing approximately a half of the last season’s growth.


This step will eliminate any possible damage caused by heavy snowfall or strong winds,  therefore needs to be done before winter.


You don’t have to follow any guidelines or principles, simply do what feels right when it comes to the selected height, but make a cut about one cm above a nod.  The reason for this is that some minor dieback might appear during the winter anyway, but that’s nothing to worry about as it will be safely removed in the spring.

Cut back current year's growth before winter
Cut back current year's growth before winter

Remove the dead wood. 

Appearance of dead wood on plants is sometimes inevitable but let’s not worry about it just yet. Make sure to cut out any dead wood to prevent any further spread.  Ideally, you might want to be doing this as soon as dieback occurs, but we understand that it can hardly be seen during the season. 


When removing the dead wood, make the cut further down, where the wood is still alive. This will eliminate any necrosis. 



Remove dying wood. 

I know, now you might be thinking, dying wood is not dead yet, and there is still a little chance it might come back.  Well, as it happens, its removal is far more beneficial than leaving it on and here is why: 


The plant works very hard and is investing a significant amount of energy into restoring the dead or dying plant cells during the repairing process. When dying wood is removed this energy can be diverted into a new, healthy growth.  Again, make the cut below, where the wood is perfectly healthy.

Remove any dead or dying wood
Remove any dead or dying wood

Remove diseased wood

Roses are prone to many diseases including mildew, rust and blackspot. We understand how frustrating it can be at times to see a disease appearing on otherwise healthy plants. 


If you see any sign of infected wood, by now it could be completely brown or just have brown spots, its complete removal is a necessity. This will prevent any additional spread in the future. 

Once again, ensure to make a cut where the wood is disease free for an optimal result.

Remove diseased wood
Remove diseased wood

Remove damaged wood. 

Any damage on your rose might have been caused by various things. A stem could have snapped during regular garden maintenance or it might have been caused by your local wildlife. Whatever the cause, we recommend removing any of the damaged wood. 


Similarly, to dying wood, the plant will work extra hard during the repatriation process and plant cells repair. Removal of any damaged wood diverts the energy into a healthy new growth. Now, you guessed it, ensure to cut off below the damage point. 


Remove crossing branches. 

Removal of crossing branches is a crucial step required to ensure a compact shape of your roses in the upcoming season.  


If you skip this step, or don’t pay too much attention to it, the top-heavy texture might result in stem collapsing. After all, you want your roses looking strong. 


But how to know which branches should be completely removed and which ones cut back to outward-facing buds? 


The solid, fresh stem of last year’s growth can be cut back to the overall desired height of the plant, assuming they are not interfering with the centre of the plant. Any weaker branches should be removed all the way back to the main stem.  

Crossing branches removal achieves compact rose shape
Crossing branches removal achieves compact rose shape

Remove any branches pointing towards the centre of the plant. 

We all know how important sunlight is for healthy plant growth and development. Removing the branches that are pointing towards the centre will allow more sunlight in, promoting rapid but healthy new growth. 


Now, when you have eliminated the density, the new growth doesn’t have to compete for the space and the extra energy can be diverted into a flower production. 


This step will also encourage the lateral growth which in turn will help in achieving the desired U or a V shape.



Remove any weak branches. 

Weak and thin branches don’t serve much of a purpose. Sure, from time to time you can see a small flower emerging from them,but this often happens on the lower part of the rose and leads to stem bending. 


Weak branches also consume energy that might be required elsewhere. We recommend completely removing all the weak branches back to the stem. Your rose will appreciate the extra energy in the growing season. 

Eliminate any thin branches
Eliminate any thin branches

Cut back last season’s growth. 

Sometimes people are afraid to cut roses back too much, thinking this might harm or even kill them. Don’t be one of these people – in this step your confidence is the key. 


Remember what your rose bush looked like when you have first got it? Chances are, there are three, four or even five stems no longer than two inches. And this is almost what we want to achieve.  However, we don’t generally recommend cutting right back to the hardwood (in most cases). Instead, cut the last year’s growth back to fist, second or even third bud. 


Let it be outwards facing bud to promote outwards growth. Again, this will help to meet the desired V shape. 


Tip: make the cut approximately 1 cm above chosen bud and in a sloping angle to avoid a water build-up.

Sloping prevents eliminates water build-up
Sloping prevents eliminates water build-up

If applicable, remove any remaining leaves, particularly the infected ones. 

Depending on the climate zone you live in or the time you prune your roses, there might not be any leaves left. However, if you do come across any diseased leaves remaining, make sure to remove them before they drop onto the ground. Diseases such as black spot can spread in the soil, infecting other plants. If you can, clean the soil of any remaining leaves and safely dispose of them. Do not compost them! 


When the leaves are breaking down in the compost heap, the diseases can spread in the compost. This might result in infecting your garden topsoil during the compost’s use later on.


If permitted, safely dispose of any infected debri at your local recycling facility.


As you can see, pruning roses doesn’t have to be a difficult task. With a little knowledge and confidence in your abilities, it can be done effortlessly. 

Prune to outwards facing bud
Prune to outwards facing bud

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