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How to Trim Roses - Keep Them Fresh and Healthy

I don't trim my roses too much and too short, but enough to enjoy their overwhelming beauty and fragrane all summer long.

Charles Austin Rose

Charles Austin Rose

How to Enjoy Your Roses for Years to Come

Many people wrote many books on how to grow roses and how to trim them. Of course they are right, you have to trim roses to stimulate the forming of new buds. Sure, I will show you some tricks too, but I want to show you a different take on the normal trimming too. One that I practise since I've visited a rose garden some ten years ago.

Winchester Cathedral - English Shrub Rose

Winchester Cathedral - English Shrub Rose

Mozart Rose in the middle

Mozart Rose in the middle

Does a Rose Need to Be Pruned Each Year?

The owner of the rose garden I visited some ten years ago told me this: "I don't prune my roses each year in the way the books teach you. I cut off canes that are growing in a direction where I don't want them. Every few years I prune them a bit more thorough. I remove the old stems so new ones can take their place. I don't trim my roses real short because then you trim a lot of flowers away".

Well, he could do that, because most of his roses in the high borders were landscape roses and ramblers. They thrive rather well on not pruning or trimming.

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

Rose Garden

My Experiece on Not Trimming Roses At All

I took what the man said about cutting off all the flowers quite litteral and I didn't trim my old type roses at all. I cut off a cane here and there and my rose garden bloomed and bloomed and bloomed. Until of course it got total out of hand and my garden turned into an impenetrable wildernis.
It took me a lot of work to get it back in some order again and since then I do trim and prune my roses the way he told me to. Each spring, but not too much and not too short. I deadhead most of the roses during the summer and that works fine for me.

The out of proportion Rambling Rose American Pillar

The out of proportion Rambling Rose American Pillar

Before You Start Trimming

You could try but I don't think handling roses without proper gloves would become you. Some roses have really thick thorns and there are roses that have thousands of little thorns all over their stems.

Most of the time I like garden gloves that let me feel what I'm doing.

However, when handling roses you really need some thicker gloves where the thorns won't hurt you the moment you touch them and the stems of some roses are just filled with thorns.

Roses have canes with thorns

Roses have canes with thorns

What Are the Best and Easy to Use Trimming Tools?

Trimming roses can become quite a burden when you have many roses to trim and you don't use the right tool for the right job. When I started I used the normal everyday pruning shears and loppers but I often had to squeeze very hard to cut the stem which caused muscle strain in my hands.

Pruning my roses and other bushes became a really easy and joyful job when I discovered the ratcheting pruning shear and the ratcheting lopper. Never again would I suffer from aching hand muscles after pruning the roses and bushes in our farmhouse garden. With these ratcheting tools, pruning has become very easy, because it cuts through the thicker canes in no time without having to use much strength. When you start cutting you'll notice it will only cut a small part. Then you have to open it a bit until you hear a 'click' (you can feel it too), then squeeze again, open it till 'click' and squeeze again. These shears increase the cutting power up to 300 percent.

However as it is with everything; different people have different opinions and the same goes for the shears and loppers. Just in case you need to take out a very thick and wooded rose cane, the best tool to do that is the pruning saw. It's an easy to use and not expensive very sharp little saw that can be folded like a razor blade. I use it all the time.

I can only speak from my own experience and therefore I recommend these ratcheting tools strongly. They will make your pruning time a fun time.

Rose Pruning and Trimming Tools

Rose Pruning and Trimming Tools

How to Trim a Rose the Best Way

A rose is a rose is a rose they say, but that is certainly not the case as it comes to the different types of roses. Each type of rose requires a different way of trimming or pruning. For some roses it's best to trim or prune them in the late Fall, for others it's best to wait until Spring when there's no threat anymore of night frost.

  • Floribunda Rose and HybridTea Rose

    These can be virtually pruned the same way. The Floribunda rose has multiple flowers on one stem and the Tea rose has only one flower per stem. They both bloom repeatedly during the summer.
Rosa Variegata di Bologna

Rosa Variegata di Bologna

  • Shrub Roses or Landscape Roses
    Shrub roses are hardy and easy to care for roses that come in a great variety of smaller and bigger rose bushes. Most of them need some space. Some are repeat bloomers, some bloom only once a year. There are single or double blooms in many different colors.
David Austen - Rose Abraham Darby

David Austen - Rose Abraham Darby

  • Climbing Roses and Rambler Roses
    The main difference between these two climbing roses is that a climbing rose is a repeat bloomer and that a rambler blooms only once a year, with a few exceptions. You also can let a rambler climb into an old fruit tree, which I did with the rambler Mme. Le Gras de St. Germain.


Rambler Rose Mme. Le Gras de St. Germain growing into an old apple tree

Rambler Rose Mme. Le Gras de St. Germain growing into an old apple tree

Climbing rose Guirlande d'Amour

Climbing rose Guirlande d'Amour

If You Have the Space Then Give Your Roses Some Freedom

Mme. Le Gras de St. Germain - a David Austin Rose

Mme. Le Gras de St. Germain - a David Austin Rose

This Rose Is Expanding Her Territory

This Rose Is Expanding Her Territory

What Is the Best Way to Remove the Deadhead Roses?

Deadheading Roses means: you take out the dead flowers during the blooming time of the rose.

However...don't just take off the flower, because then it won't grow a new one.

Look for the first or second healthy leave below the flower which is pointing outwards and cut it off just above that leave. This will stimulate the rose to grow a new flower carrying branch.

Mind you, that will only succeed with roses that will flower all summer. There are some old roses which will flower only once a year.

I don't trim all roses each year

I don't trim all roses each year

© 2013 Titia Geertman

Do you like Roses too?

Auriel on March 23, 2013:

beautiful flowers..

Bob Zau on March 12, 2013:

Nice pictures. I love the smell of roses and with all the varieties available. There mus be a type that even I can grow.

GardenIdeasHub LM on March 12, 2013:

I really enjoyed your lens about trimming roses in the spring and I did pick up some good tips.

Muebles de host on March 03, 2013:

very nice lens. thank you

toronto-wedding on February 28, 2013:

nice information about gardening.Thanks

SteveKaye on February 27, 2013:

Beautiful photos and great info. Thank you.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on February 27, 2013:

It is so nice to see your roses so gloriously displayed. Your effort and hard work are beginning to pay off. I'm doing a little happy dance for you. Have a wonderful spring...it is right around the corner now.

Titia Geertman (author) from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on February 25, 2013:

@chezchazz: LOL Chazz, I'm sure you can come up with a different angle of pruning roses. So many gardeners, so many ways to prune roses. I do as little as I can. But I have to start all over, practically all roses you see in the photos are either dead or trying to survive by sending up a few inferior stems.

Chazz from New York on February 25, 2013:

WOW! Can't believe I hadn't seen this lens before. Blessed and featured on Still Wing-ing it on Squidoo and will shortly be added to My Victorian Garden in Summer: Growing Heirloom Roses lens - no point in my writing a lens about rose pruning - you've got it covered!

stylishimo1 on February 24, 2013:

Beautiful roses, it's sad that some of yours died, the one growing over the apple tree looked so beautiful. I hope your rose garden flourishes again soon :)

LeslieMirror on February 24, 2013:

Roses look extremelly gorgeous. I guess that it the most perfect present ever!

Pmona LM on February 23, 2013:

Roses are such beautiful flowers, with such an amazing fragrance. I've enjoyed looking at your photos.

anonymous on February 22, 2013:

Beautiful Roses! Thanks for the information it is really helpful.

SandraWilson LM on February 19, 2013:

Beautiful pictures. I'm so sorry you lost so many roses. Terrible! Thank you for the helpful lens.

robbieshaws on February 18, 2013:

Thank you for an informative and beautiful lens. Worth the read.

Vikki from US on February 18, 2013:

So lovely--it really was like strolling through the garden with you. Beautiful photos. #blessed

Loraine Brummer from Hartington, Nebraska on February 18, 2013:

I swear I could smell the roses as I enjoyed this article. I appreciate all the great tips also. Now, for Spring to come so I can go trim my roses correctly once.

anonymous on February 17, 2013:

My grandmother always had roses...and they always had her "working" so hard, I was afraid to try them. This last spring, Red planted some for me and from your pictures and descriptions I have a much better idea of how to trim them. Thank you!

Tony Bonura from Tickfaw, Louisiana on February 17, 2013:

Hi Tatia,

I really enjoyed this very interesting and informative lens. I used to grow roses when I was in Houston and loved everything that went along with it. I keep thinking that I'll start growing them again, but so far have not gotten around to doing it.

TonyB

miaponzo on February 16, 2013:

I absolutely LOVE roses and I wish I could grow them.. maybe I'll try :)

Titia Geertman (author) from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on February 16, 2013:

@Spikey64: Hi spikey, don't trim roses you've just planted, they need their rest to settle and grow first. Just lead the branches where you want them.

Spikey64 on February 16, 2013:

I have just planted some climbing roses in my backyard and this lens has come in useful teaching me how to prune them.

anonymous on February 16, 2013:

This lens is a great help

WindyWintersHubs from Vancouver Island, BC on February 16, 2013:

Hello. Congrats on your Purple Star! I learned a lot about trimming roses. I didn't realize there are different ways to trim the varieties of roses. Right now, we only have miniature potted roses on our patio. Sorry, you lost many of your beautiful roses. Blessed!

KamalaEmbroidery on February 15, 2013:

Thanks for this lens. I have a rose I inherited. It blooms all winter and I was wondering how to trim it. I live in Northern California, so the winters are mild and it's on my protected patio. Still it's odd, but beautiful.

ysc on February 15, 2013:

simply wow... like it, yes as I do for roses :-)

slyounkin1 on February 15, 2013:

great lens, thanks for the tips

JoshK47 on February 15, 2013:

Quite a lovely and well put together lens - very informative! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

john9229 on February 14, 2013:

Nice roses pictures here. I not good trim roses actually.

gottaloveit2 on February 14, 2013:

Really beautiful and informative article and quite timely. I was looking for exactly this information! Thanks.

Kay on February 14, 2013:

I always trim my roses. They always come back so full and beautiful. Your photos are stunning! Blessed!

Titia Geertman (author) from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on February 14, 2013:

@Natural_Skin_Care: You don't have to be brave to plant a rose, you only have to look for the right one for the right spot.

Natural_Skin_Care on February 14, 2013:

I haven't been brave enough to try growing roses, but I'm bookmarking these tips in case I ever do.

kemanS on February 14, 2013:

Wow! Amazing lens and as a gardener I am very impressed and will be coming back to learn more because I can grow vegetables but know little about growing flowers. Great job.

Tom on February 14, 2013:

Nice tutorial on trimming roses.

Elaine Chen on February 14, 2013:

i like to see all the roses pictures here

anonymous on February 14, 2013:

Amazing lens !!

CatJGB on February 13, 2013:

You know, my close neighbour tells me she is a gardener by trade. However, she plants all the veggies in our shared garden in the wrong places for them, despite me 'advising' (because she should know better than me, being a gardener, right?)......BUT, she does have BEAUTIFUL roses, so she obviously is getting something right. Maybe she read this guide, hehehe!

Titia Geertman (author) from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on February 13, 2013:

@BeyondRoses: I never prune or trim the rambler roses, only if there branches get too long or grow to places I don't want them, I cut them of after blooming or I will lead them into another way. Ramblers need their space. The only way to grow a rambler in a small garden is to lead her all the way up against the wall of the house or along a fence. There's so much one can do with roses.

Camile from Doha Qatar on February 13, 2013:

This is definitely a great guide for trimming roses. Steps, guides, video and the tools for trimming roses, everything can be found here.

wapsmad on February 13, 2013:

Very nice informative lens, you are maintaining this very well :)

Thanks for the information....

BeyondRoses on February 12, 2013:

Your photos, and stories on trimming roses are lovely. I know how you feel saddened in loosing some of your beloved roses. I get a bit of tears when I look at old photos of the roses I use to have. I loved them, but even with the few I had, it was an early morn routine of pruning, and the brown spot is a real issue in the climate of my area. I love the rambler rose, and my Mom had one like that in her garden, and I don't recall her spraying, pruning, or anything. Flowers just flourished for her. I've often thought of how roses can require so much tending, and yet I've seen ramblers that flourish when even abandoned. You've reminded me of how sweet that rose, and that time was. One of my childhood pets was laid to rest beneath the rambler rose.

mrsfashionista on February 12, 2013:

Informative lens! Thanks for sharing it with us.

Kumar P S on February 12, 2013:

Great lens ! Useful and informative. Thanks for sharing.

rattie lm on February 12, 2013:

Lovely lens. Roses don't seem to like me much. Despite that they do survive in my garden.

Titia Geertman (author) from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on February 11, 2013:

@flycatcherrr: Yes, I like the Grootendorst too. Good luck and don't prune too much at the same time.

Titia Geertman (author) from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on February 11, 2013:

@Ramkitten2000: Some roses do and some don't or will grow into real forests, depending on what kind of rose it is. Ramblers tend to grow wild ands some, like the one in the apple tree could cover a whole house if you let it go its own way.

Titia Geertman (author) from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on February 11, 2013:

@bossypants: Somehow those red ones touched my heart too, both roses are not completely dead yet, so I hope they will bloom again in due time.

Titia Geertman (author) from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on February 11, 2013:

@PromptWriter: I'm a very lazy gardener myself and at one point the roses had grown so wild, that I even couldn't get all the way to the back of the garden due to a forest of thorned branches halfway. I like to see roses being beautiful on their own too, even if it means they die because they're not fit for the heavy clay we have here. I never spray them either for bugs or anything.

TheCandle LM on February 11, 2013:

Beautiful. Thanks for the rose pruning tips. I'll be putting them to use this Spring. Hope your rose garden comes back to it's former glory, even if you have to plant new roses. Quite lovely.

Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on February 11, 2013:

I have terrible luck with roses. Mostly because I am a lazy gardener and want roses to be beautiful all on their own. ;)

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 11, 2013:

I am sorry to see Mme. Le Gras St. Germain die. It looks so beautiful on the old apple tree. Congrats on the Imminent inclusion.

Stephen J Parkin from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada on February 11, 2013:

Roses are beautiful plants to grow and well looked after can give many lifetimes of flowering beauty. Well done on this informative lens and a well deserved Purple Star!

KimGiancaterino on February 11, 2013:

This is lovely! We have two established arches with climbing roses, and I'm babying along a new one with Cecile Brunner roses I found on eBay. The grower makes clippings from his own plant across the country in Florida. We expect it to bloom in a few months for the first time. Roses are such a rewarding hobby.

Shelly Sellers from Midwest U.S.A. on February 11, 2013:

I have 4 rose types and love, love them all! I think my favorite is the Tea Rose, which is so pretty! I do trim them all after they bloom and before Winter sets in!

getmoreinfo on February 11, 2013:

I like reading about when it is the best time to trim roses because I have a few in my little flower and herb garden. They are so beautiful in the summer months.

Titia Geertman (author) from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on February 10, 2013:

@maryseena: No, the white climbing rose in the tree died above ground also. But it's forming new branches from the root. It will take years though before it will cover the whole tree again.

Fay Favored from USA on February 10, 2013:

It took me awhile to learn about trimming roses and when to do it. I appreciate this and the videos.

maryseena on February 10, 2013:

Hope you still have the white climbing rose. I cannot think of anything more romantic than living in a house with a garden perfumed by beautiful roses, especially the climbing varieties. I have to make do with bougainvilleas instead; they have pretty colors, but sadly, no fragrance. I just made my very first lens on them.

seosmm on February 09, 2013:

I always enjoy your lenses. You do such a wonderful job!

Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on February 09, 2013:

Really well-written lens with lots of good tips. Thanks so much.

bossypants on February 09, 2013:

Oh! I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your roses to the unseasonable winter! The apple tree rose was a beauty -- like nothing I've ever seen. All your photographs are so lovely. The 2 photos of the red roses, rambling, I believe, are exquisite. I'm not sure why, precisely, but they touched my heart. What an enjoyable lens!

anonymous on February 08, 2013:

Beautifully presented in every possible way and now I understand that pruning roses is to stimulate growth when done correctly. Congratulations on home page honors and that pretty purple star...very well deserved!

Expat Mamasita from Thailand on February 08, 2013:

I love roses, they always remind me of home in England.

Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on February 08, 2013:

Wow, a lot of great information. I used to have a whole hedge of roses along the driveway at a previous home. They were so beautiful but definitely needed some knowledgeable trimming -- which I never did. But they kept blooming nonetheless ... probably just not as much as they would have had I kept up on them.

Stuwaha on February 06, 2013:

This lens has reminded me of another plant I want for my garden. Not sure what it's called specifically but it's a rose bush that produces many small blooms and covers a large area. Going to go look it up now! My grandmother had one and it was beautiful :)

So sorry to learn about all of your devastated plants :(

flycatcherrr on February 06, 2013:

I love the Grootendorst in your intro photo - that's one of my favourite roses. Possibly in part because it is one of the few that does well in my cold climate and windy hilltop location. :) I need all the pruning advice I can get, so thank you for this!