The Grounds Guys
Person pruning roses with text: "Pruning rose bushes: easy as 1, 2, 3!"

Pruning Rose Bushes: Easy as 1, 2, 3

Roses are known for many things. They are a simple way to show someone you love them by sending a dozen or two on holidays or anytime you want to say you care. Roses are also a great backdrop for special family photos or framed artwork to decorate the walls of a home. And who can forget the distinct scent that rose buds offer to any home or landscape! But probably the number-one way roses impact our life is by the beauty they add to your landscape. Roses are a colorful way to boost curb appeal and add a splash of color to your lawn. But just like all aspects of your landscape, they need special care and grooming to look their best; they need careful pruning.

Why do rose bushes need pruning? The purpose of pruning is to remove the dead wood from the bushes to allow for better air circulation, appealing shape of the plant, and healthy growth in the coming seasons. There are special things to consider when deciding when to prune your rose bushes, such as the time of year and weather. Extensive pruning too close to winter can promote growth of buds just in time for winter weather to take a turn for the cold and damage them. With that being said, here are a few tips to make pruning your rose bushes as easy as it can be.


First and foremost, it’s important to be aware of the best times to prune in the region you live. It’s safe to do a light clean-up of your rose bushes at any time of the year, but the end of winter is a good time to do some pruning. Generally, you should begin pruning right after the spring’s final frost. It’s best to wait until the temperature is above freezing for a few weeks. For those living in warmer climates, pruning can happen pretty early in the year, while areas with colder climates may need to wait until later when the risk of a winter freeze is lower.


How will you know your bush is ready to be pruned? When the buds are just beginning to swell, it’s time to prune. At this time, you’ll be able to prune without causing damage. Check the stems for evidence of leaf bud growth. If you don’t see any tiny new swells and have not noticed growth, wait a little longer before pruning. You may also notice the buds turning red as they swell; this is another sign the plant is ready for pruning.

How To Prune Effectively

  1. Take a moment to look at the overall plant. You will begin pruning from the base of the plant. Make a clean cut at a 45-degree angle and about 1/4-inch above a bud facing toward the outside of the plant.
  2. Remove any broken, dying, or diseased wood from the plant, as well as any branches that are thinner than a pencil. You will want to cut it back until the inside of the cane is white.
  3. Seal each cut with white glue – such as Elmer’s – to prevent cane borers from disturbing it. This will also help the plant recover quicker.

As your bushes begin to fade in late summer, it’s appropriate to begin deadheading them. Deadheading is the process of snipping off faded roses to encourage the plant to re-bloom instead of producing fruits. It takes about 40 days from the day you deadhead for new blooms to appear on your bush.

The pruning process can seem daunting, but once you know the 1,2,3’s, it’s much easier to get started. For assistance with pruning your rose bushes and other plants and trees, contact your local The Grounds Guys®.