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rhs masterclass

Rose pruning varies between


selections so be sure to use
the right approach.

As with most pruning, the first to


remove are the three Ds: dead,
diseased and damaged wood.

Always prune out rubbing and crossing


branches as this can provide an access
point for diseases.

Pruning roses
Giving the right care, and pruning in the dormant season, will greatly improve the
flowering performance of these traditional garden favourites
Roses are among the greatest flowering ensure the plants are in optimum condition for the
plants, typically reaching their peak in June when new season; the exact timing depends on the type
they fill the air with fragrance and produce a dazzling of rose as well as the prevailing weather conditions.
RHS / Sue Carter

array of flowers in almost every colour apart from true The aim of pruning is to encourage the rose to produce
blue. These amazing blooms are produced on roses healthy and vigorous new growth on a well-branched
that range from low groundcover plants to modern framework from which the flower buds will be formed.
English roses, from those the size of small trees to Pruning also allows you to get the plant ready for its
Author: Ian Bull, climbers and ramblers. To ensure roses produce best flowering performance by removing crossing and
Garden Manager, the best display of flowers year after year, they need congested branches as well as all dead and diseased
RHS Garden annual pruning to maximise new flowering wood, wood again, to ensure the rose remains healthy
Hyde Hall. and to prevent plants from becoming leggy with old, and vigorous. If the soil is waterlogged, avoid pruning
Photography: unproductive growth that produces few flowers. unless you are working on boards. Similarly, beware
Tim Sandall
Gardeners are best advised to prune roses through
the dormant season (from November to March) to
pruning if the weather is icy or frosty, as the pruning
cuts can crush the stem.
January 2015 | The Garden 43
Pruning roses
rhs masterclass

Hybrid Tea, Floribunda Climbers and Ramblers Prune Climbing roses


also from October; they
are less vigorous than

and English roses Generally, Climbing roses repeat flower while Ramblers tend to flower
only once. They are pruned differently: all the old flowered growth is
removed from Ramblers, but most is retained for Climbing roses.
ramblers so do not
need pruning as hard.
New growth should be
These Large- and Cluster-flowered bush roses have an upright retained and flowering
Prune Ramblers from
branching structure and bear flowers in clusters. spurs pruned to two
October onwards. It is
buds. Keep the bulk
Hybrid Tea or Large-flowered roses are pruned in early March easier to train the plant
of the established
when the risk of frost has subsided. The aim is to create an open- the earlier it is pruned.
framework unless it
centred plant with branches evenly spaced in the shape of a goblet. Ramblers flower best on
is dead, diseased or
This produces a well-balanced plant and allows good air circulation. new wood, so remove all
damaged. To regenerate
As with all pruning, remove the three Ds (dead, diseased and flowered wood and keep
a climber, cut a quarter
damaged wood) first along with all crossing branches. new growth. Flowered
of the older stems hard;
Then prune stems to three or four buds above last wood will have hips and
if there is no new
years cut, just above an outward-facing bud. Cut up can be cut back to the
growth, cut back to
to a quarter of the older stems back to the main base of the plant to a
within 40cm (16in)
stem each year to maintain the vigour. You can point where a new
of the ground.
also tidy previous seasons cuts where knuckles growth emerges. Prune
(calluses that form due to repeated pruning in the sideshoots to one or
same place) have developed (inset), as this is often two buds to encourage On an obelisk
For ramblers, When training climbers
where disease and dieback begin. Prune back hard flowering next year. remove flowered
any strong new growths that emerge from the plants growth and prune to an obelisk ensure
sideshoots before stems remain on the
base so that the following, second years growth will flower
at the same height as the established framework.
On a wall tying in stems. outside to enable foliage
If trained on a wall it is and flowers to cover the
Floribunda or Cluster-flowered roses have a greater branching important to remove structure. Wrap stems
framework, producing clusters of smaller flowers in a larger quantity. any growth from behind around the obelisk as
Prune slightly less hard than a Hybrid Tea rose, as the branching the support. When tying low as possible almost
framework should be encouraged to increase flowering. Cut stems the rose in, consider the horizontally because if
back only to four to six buds above last years pruning point. overall shape you are you train them straight
trying to create. Tie in up you get a bare frame
English roses are a fairly new group of roses bred since the 1970s by
Prune back Floribunda roses not the established stems at the base.
David Austin, combining the wide colour range and repeat flowering
quite as hard as Hybrid Teas: leave first then overlay the
of modern bush roses with the flower structure and fragrance of old the stems slightly longer (above) to For vigorous growth,
younger arching
species. Prune as you would a Floribunda rose. English roses can encourage bountiful flowering (left) even when paired with
growth, making sure
produce long, strong new growths through summer: in the early the following season: shown in a clematis, retain the
bloom is Rosa Absolutely Fabulous there are even spaces framework and spur
autumn cut these back by half to avoid wind-rock.
(Wekvossutono). between the stems. prune sideshoots.

Modern shrub On a rope


Prune rope-trained
rambling roses in
These large shrubs with diverse origins
November and
were introduced in the past century.
December following
the same principles
Many more-recent roses are larger than
as pruning on a wall.
Hybrid Teas, often forming sizeable plants
Tie them in to create
with a branching structure. Modern shrub
a sweeping curve
roses such as these should be pruned in
with a high shoulder
the dormant season, and while an open
stretching down to a
centre is ideal, it is more important to
low tip. Both shoulders
build up a branching framework with
should be well balanced
sideshoots that produce flowering spurs.
and the stems evenly
When pruning, reduce the main stems by
placed. Weave the
around a third and the sideshoots by a
stems around the rope
half to two thirds. Only thin out one or
in a basket effect, with
two of the older stems if necessary. Cut the main stems of a
modern shrub rose back by a the established stems
Pruning into a goblet shape can prevent When there are plenty of stems to Removing the weaker shoots Weave the remaining strong shoots
Treat an English rose as Floribunda roses: to promote third in the dormant season. tied first and the new work with, tie them together and to and stems will ensure only around each other and
stems from growing inward and rubbing.
flower development, prune in autumn, creating a frame ones added afterwards. the rope to create a shoulder the strongest ones form part tie to the rope in order to create
work of branches and stems with several buds each. structure of stems. of the structure along the rope. an interwoven pattern.

44 The Garden | January 2015 January 2015 | The Garden 45
rhs masterclass

Standards and weeping roses


Roses budded to a tall stem and grown as standards can be pruned much like a bush rose. Weeping standard roses,
more akin to ramblers, need a slightly different approach to get the best out of the new growth and flowers.

Standard roses add height to a


border and are created using
a long cane rootstock, onto
which the chosen rose cultivar
is budded. Prune the same way
as if it was grown as a bush.
Weeping standard roses are
usually ramblers or procumbent
roses that have been budded
onto a rootstock cane. It is
important to retain the new
growth of these roses, only
removing the three Ds and one
or two of the older stems to keep
an open structure to the plant.

Thin the crown Preserve framework Bountiful blooms


A sure sign that a standard Prune a standard rose as you By pruning in this way you will
Where double shoots grow
from a stem, remove rose is in need of pruning is would a bush rose, aiming for encourage the rose to put on new
the weaker shoot. when it has developed a an open crown with a well- growth and plenty of flowers.
congested crown. balanced framework.

Ground cover Find


out more
and hedging 8 Jan 2015: rose and
wisteria pruning work
Roses that are low growing require different shop, RHS Garden Hyde
pruning techniques due to their habit. Hall, see Diary, p79.
Ground Cover roses produce small flowers on arching Ground Cover roses, such as Rosa RHS London Rose
stems and can cover large areas with their spread. There Flower Carpet White (Noaschnee),
can provide blooms over large areas. Show 2015, 2930 May,
are two types: shrub types that remain as a bush; and Royal Horticultural Halls,
spreading, rambler types whose stems may reach 3m Westminster, London
(10ft) along the ground. Ground Cover roses only need
Give hedges a light trim
light pruning: remove the three Ds and any weak shoots, in winter, removing old FURTHER
but once the rose has reached its allotted space it may flowers and hips. READING
need harder pruning. Cut back upright shoots and RHS Encyclopedia
reduce strong sideshoots by a third. If the rose becomes of Roses by Charles
overgrown remove a third of the congested stems. Quest-Ritson, 2011,
Hedging roses can be used in many situations and RHS/Dorling Kindersley,
some species such as Rosa rugosa make great hedges. isbn9781405373852, 30
Pruning depends on how formal you wish the barrier
to be. Rosa rugosa make fine informal barriers; prune
in winter, removing the three Ds. Depending on the www.rhs.org.uk
size of the hedge, the top or the sides may need Search Rose pruning
reducing cut to a healthy bud, and remove up to at the RHS website
a quarter of the old stems to generate new growth. for more advice.

46 The Garden | January 2015