When To Prune Roses In The UK

With winter slowly creeping up on us, pruning roses in the UK is a topic that many gardeners are starting to think about. All roses require pruning in the late winter/early spring, usually around March in the United Kingdom.

It’s important to prune roses during the right time of the year and after each season. This is advised for established plants and any modern shrub roses that you planted in the previous fall or winter. If you’re going to plant a shrub or typical in the spring, prune it just before planting.

The danger of wind-rock developing in the winter gales is one concern that must be considered while delaying pruning until spring. The alternative, however, is to prune long stems in the autumn, preferably in November.

This article will cover when pruning roses should be done in the UK, how this process can improve growth rates for your plants, and why pruning is so important for your flowers.

rose pruning snippet image

Table of Contents

When Should You Prune Ramblers?

Roses pruned during the fall, winter or early spring will generally produce stronger growth and larger blossoms. Pruning any roses grown from a cane cutting in January is also beneficial to their health. Most climbing roses should be pruned in March, with the exception of a rambling rose. Once the blooming has finished, this must be trimmed in late summer or early fall.

Be careful of pruning roses too early

This can damage the plant. Pruning too soon may result in the buds breaking prematurely if there is a mild spell, only to have a cold snap return causing frost damage later on. Very annoying with the unpredictability of the British weather!

Despite this, certain rose experts claim that they flower sooner when they prune regularly in January or February during warm weather, even though others argue that March is the best time to do it.

outward facing bud

Be careful of pruning roses too late

It’s best to prune roses before the growth starts in spring, so pruning between February and April is usually fine. Pruning too late into winter can cause severe damage or dieback of stems which are then unable to produce flowers that year.

Pruning too late will also result in the plant being weakened. The roses sap usually flows up the plant while the buds are developing, and pruning your rose at this time is likely to result in a significant amount of sap loss.

Why Should You Prune A Rose?

Pruning roses is essential for higher quality blooms, pruned climbing roses will be healthier and better able to fight off disease. Pruning can also improve the growth of your plants by stimulating new growth that produces more flowers. This means you should prune each rose bush once a year in order to keep them healthy while producing strong blossoms all season long.

There are different pruning techniques depending on how large or bushy your plant is. It’s important not to prune any stems unless they are dead, diseased or growing outwards where other branches are located – otherwise known as crossing branches.

Pruning is a method to maintain control of roses by removing the oldest, weakest growth. Every year, pruning is done to remove old, decayed wood and stimulate robust and healthy stems. Light Pruning a rose will produce a lovely, shapely bush with a solid structure. We also prune for greater air circulation around the plant.

pruning roses with Secateurs

What tools do you need to prune roses?

Bypass Secateurs/Pruners

The most popular garden pruners. They provide a clean-cut, just what you need when trimming your rose bush. Purchase Here

A Pruning Saw

When dealing with stems that are more than an inch (2.5cm) in diameter, a bushking tool is the best option. Purchase Here

Long Handled Loppers/Pruners

Tall climbing or shrub roses will benefit from the use of this saw. When it comes to huge stems, many gardeners like to utilize them instead of a pruning saw. Purchase Here

Gloves (Preferably long ones)

Gardening gloves are required to protect your hands from thorns.

Kneeling Pad

When it’s time to prune your rose bush, a kneeling pad will allow you to get closer to it. Purchase Here

We utilize ours for almost all types of gardening throughout the year and see no reason not to save your knees from aches and pains.

kneeling pad

How To Prune Your Roses

So pruning is the removal of dead, diseased or crossing branches. When light pruning rose bushes during different seasons, follow these steps:

Pruning Rose Bushes in Spring-Summer

Remove all canes that show damage and prune back one-third of the remaining growth to open up the centre and allow better air circulation through your climbing roses. This will also promote new shoots from surrounding areas for a healthier plant.

Prunings should be thrown away as they cannot go on any garden waste recycling system because of their potential disease contamination. When it comes to pruning hardwood cuttings (old wood), make sure you remove them at ground level instead of cutting lower down where there may still be buds close to the base.

Pruning Rose Bushes in Autumn/Winter

Remove the prunings from your repeat flowering shrub roses before throwing them into a green waste recycling bin. This is because, just like pruning during spring-summer, prunings carry certain diseases that can potentially infect other plants and flowers. By removing all prunings you will be helping to ensure the removal of any potential disease pathogens or pests currently residing on those cuttings.

Prune dead stems back to healthy growth so they won’t spread rot through your plant while also encouraging new growth for next year’s blooms! The best time to do this is between November and February when it’s cool enough outside but not yet freezing cold (you don’t want them rotting). If you prune climbing roses during this time, pruning wounds will heal faster and new growth for next year’s blooms can be stimulated.

seasonal rose pruning

Methods to prune your roses

For most of human history, there was just one basic standard approach to prune, and then in the 1990s, a simple-care technique emerged. The new technique produces results that are at least as good as those produced by the conventional approach, but with far less work.

Do you want to know the best iceberg rose care tips for ultimate colour and health? Read a blog that we wrote that covers this.

Traditional methods to prune your roses

Our preferred approach of pruning your rose will be the conventional one. All bushes and standards should be cut in the following manner:

Remove all traces of deadwood and diseased portions of the stem. If the sliced surface is white, it’s a good sign that you’ve done everything right.

Remove any thin stems and branches that overlap or brush against one another. The objective is to grow an open-centred bush, which is excellent for air circulation (which is important for your plants).

Remove all suckers. Cutaway any unripe stems. Try to snap off several thorns if they bend or tear instead of breaking cleanly, the wood is too soft to be of any use. Only healthy and ripe stems should remain now. Cut these to the appropriate length for the type of rose you’re pruning.

dead heading roses

Pruning A Hybrid Tea Bushes

Hybrid tea roses are very prunable. Roses of this type need to be pruned sparingly, removing only the dead wood every year if at all possible. If you’re pruning your hybrid tea roses lightly in autumn-winter or spring-summer, then try not to cut off more than a third of each cane’s length when pruning away branches entirely.

If it is necessary to prune back further for other reasons (such as growth control), make sure that the remaining growth will still have room enough around them for air circulation and sunlight penetration through leaves should also be kept close together during pruning so they don’t shade these buds from lifegiving light energy.

Pruning A Floribunda And Patio Rose Bushes

Newly planted floribundas and patio roses, like hybrid teas, need a hard prune. To build up a healthy root system and promote robust fresh flowering shoots from near the bush’s base, hard pruning is necessary for the same reason.

Newly planted floribundas and patio roses should have their stems removed to a distance of 15cm (6 inches) from the earth’s surface. Moderate pruning is the key to resolving a floribunda for an established plant.

Old stems are removed to a few centimetres from the ground, while new shoots that emerged near to the root last year require a modest prune. This method of trimming maintains stems of various lengths, ensuring an extended period of blooming.

Dead Heading A Rose


This pruning technique is used to encourage stronger growth for next year’s blooms. It can be done any time of the growing season but ideally should be carried out when your roses are starting to bud, between May and June before they have flowered.

Remove any dead flowers that are beginning to fade on your rose bush which will also remove the energy from those buds so it goes back into producing healthy new ones instead – just like giving a plant fertilizer. If you leave them there all summer long then the pruned stem becomes weak and susceptible to disease or pest infestation. You do not want this occurring in your garden as diseases spread very quickly throughout plants and kill whole bushes off within weeks if left untreated!

Disbudding A Rose

This pruning technique is used to stop a rose plant from developing an abundance of flowers. It can be done anytime during the growing season but ideally should be carried out when your miniature roses are starting to bud, between May and June before they have flowered.

When pruning roses that produce doubles (e.g Climbers), you will need to remove up to one-third of the buds on each stem in order for there to only be single flower blooms! By taking away some of those buds it forces energy into fewer stems which results in larger blooms at maturity. Removing too many buds, however, may result in smaller sized blooms so make sure you prune enough while still allowing good airflow through your plants.

rose buds

Thinning A Rose

It’s quite common for two or more shoots to grow from a single bud after trimming. Only one of them should be kept. The less robust or inward-facing shoots should be gently removed using your fingers.

Other Related Questions

Can I prune roses in November?

Most roses may be pruned in the fall or winter, depending on where you live. Rambling roses should be pruned in the summer, according to Gardeners’ World, because they tend to spread too much and are difficult to control.

Why are my roses growing so tall?

Because your roses aren’t getting enough equal sunshine, or they haven’t been trimmed recently enough, their stems are growing tall. Because roses are fast-growing plants (particularly when cultivated in fertile soil), they grow taller when they don’t receive enough light.

climbing roses

How do you keep roses from getting leggy?

Remove any stems that are growing horizontally across the centre of the shrub and rubbing against each other. Then, reduce the top quarter of the rose’s development. Continue to be unconcerned about where you cut at this point. In the spring after that, trim away any upper branches to a new rosebud growing away from the centre of the plant.

How do I make my roses bushier?

Feed and mulchMulch your roses in the spring and autumn, although keep them 10cm away from their stems. In the spring and again in the summer after the first flush of petals, feed them. Use a fertilizer that includes potash and magnesium to produce more abundant flowers.

Does cutting roses produce more flowers?

If you remove a 3-leaf leaflet from a rose, it will continue to grow but no flowers will be produced. Your rose will bloom as long as you remove the faded petals on a regular basis.

cutting roses for growth

Are bananas good for roses?

Bananas are a great source of potassium, which can help prevent pruning roses from getting black spot. Bananas also have anti-fungal properties that will protect your rose bushes when applied directly to them in the pruning process.

What causes yellow leaves on roses?

Because the soil’s pH is too high, or there isn’t enough iron in the soil, rose leaves turn yellow. It might also be caused by overwatering or poorly draining soil. Roses dislike having too much water around their roots, so don’t overdo it when watering them.

We have written an in-depth article on why your rose leaves may be turning yellow

Should you cut off yellow leaves?

It is generally safe to remove a few yellowed leaves from your plant. Removing yellow leaves keeps your plant looking vibrant and healthy, as well as making your garden more appealing. Yellow leaf removal can help prevent disease by reducing the risk of infection from decaying leaves rather than healthy ones.

yellowing rose leaves

What's the best fertilizer for roses?

For the initial treatment, use a high-nitrogen fertilizer or top-dress with alfalfa meal (5-1-2) to jump-start leaf development, as well as epsom salts to stimulate new cane growth and lusher growth. When shoots are 4 to 5 inches long, apply a slow-release fertilizer.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

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