When do I prune rose bushes?
Hardiness Zone: 8a
Ida from Newbern, NC
Answers will vary depending on whom you ask (apparently every rose grower has a different opinion on pruning), but here is my advice.
As part of preparing your roses for winter, you may want to consider cutting back the stems to a length that will keep the overall form of your bushes somewhat tight. This will help to protect them from damaging winter winds. Some gardeners also recommend bundling (tying) the canes together for additional protection. If winter winds are not a concern in your garden, wait until spring before you prune. In mid-February to mid-March, just as the buds break dormancy, cut your roses back as desired to control their size and shape. You'll need to watch the buds closely. If you prune to early, you'll be putting future growth at risk for cold or frost damage. Wait too long and your bushes may be weakened from a loss of sap. The best time to prune is when the buds begin to swell. This is also a good time to remove any dead, diseased or damaged stems and those that cross through the center of the bush and impede airflow.
Use a sharp set of pruning shears dipped in a 70% alcohol solution to avoid spreading disease. Cuts should be as clean as possible and angled at a slant. Cuts should end about 1/4 inch above an outside bud to encourage an outer direction of growth.
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Roses generally bloom in summer but should be pruned late winter/early spring just as the buds appear. This can vary from late January to March depending on the area of the country you are in. Prune too early and you will cause early growth that is vulnerable to frost damage. Prune too late and you will waste energy the plant already put into making the buds and leaves you remove. The best time is after the last frost when buds are beginning to swell. Hope that helps
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