Pruning roses

Early spring is a good time to start pruning roses The exact time will depend on where in the country you are and how cold it is. Pruning time is between mid-March through to early April, watch for when the buds start to swell, but before any leaves appear and as long as the weather isn’t freezing. Four steps to perfectly pruned shrub roses

  1. Use sharp secateurs with clean blades, ragged cuts are more prone to frost and infections.
  2. Prune out any dead or diseased branches.
  3. Prune out any crossing or rubbing branches.
  4. Prune all remaining stems back by half their length to an outward-facing bud, so the new shoot that grows from it will shoot away from the centre of the plant. Make each cut about 1cm (1/4in) above the outward-facing bud, at a slight angle so the rain runs off, rather than seeps into the wood. For new or neglected roses, cut back all branches to three or four buds from the base instead.

However, a few years ago the Royal National Rose Society carried out a trial comparing traditionally pruned roses with those that were roughly pruned, where the stems of the roses were cut back by half using an electric hedgetrimmer. The results were the same, even after five years of this treatment, which is definitely reason to take heart!

Tools required

secateurs or shears, gloves

Skill rating

moderate