Rose Pruning Guide

To help grow successful roses it is a good idea to give them an annual prune. Pruning your roses each year will keep them in tip top shape and improve flowering! Here's a guide to pruning roses.

Pruning roses is a task that people are often unsure how to go about. Follow our pruning guide to successfully prune your roses:

Pruning your roses

  • Prune in mid to late winter.
  • For best results use clean sharp tools and prune on a clear warm day.
  • Make all cuts on a 45º angle, just above an outward facing bud.
  • When pruning remove all dead and diseased stems.
  • Generally aim to cut the main branches back by half and clear the centre of the plant to allow good air movement, leaving at least three to four main canes in an open vase shape.
  • Collect any diseased leaves that fall off your rose to stop it spreading.

Click here for our Rose Growing Guide

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Rose Pruning Guide Comments

  • Hi. I live in Christchurch, so should I leave pruning until late July?

    Martin Fraser-Allen

    • Hi Martin, as you are in a colder climate we would recommend leaving pruning until late winter or early spring after the last frost. 

      Tui Team

    • Thanks so much!

      Martin

  • Hi, how many buds should I leave on bottom half of canes?

    Keith

    • Hi Keith, leave five buds up from the graft union.

      Tui Team

    • Thanks. Is this also the same for standard roses?

      Keith

    • Yes it is :)

      Tui Team

  • Hi, I have just moved into a property in Bay of Plenty and have a rose bush that needs pruning. When would be the best time to prune this? Many thanks.

    Michael Warrilow

    • Hi Michael, mid to late winter is the best time to prune roses. 

      Tui Team

  • I have a Birthday Present climbing rose and am not sure how to prune it. Do I just treat it like a standard and cut back to halfway on existing branches?

    Jenny Barnes

    • Hi Jenny,

      Firstly remove any spindly, weak, dead, dying or diseased wood from summer. You don't say what sort of support the rose has and if it is growing up a trellis, pole or along a fenceline. It may take a couple of seasons to establish the framework you want. To establish the framework encourage the main shoots to grow horizontally, you will get better flowering from horizontal branches, and cut back any side shoots that have flowered to about 3-4 main buds (or one third). Prune any older branches or non flowering shoots right down to the base as this will encourage new growth. Prune on a dry day, use sharp tools and make cuts just above an outward facing bud on a 45 degree sloping angle so that water runs off the cut and water doesn't pool, causing disease to get into the plant. Regards, The Tui Team.

      Tui Team

  • Thanks for the diagrams, I was looking for info to prune my roses

    margaret Kalweit

  • Hi Tui, when is the best time to prune roses in South East Auckland. I have been doing a lot of dead-heading and some rose have come back with a second flowering. Am I doing it right by cutting it back to the next 5th leaf on the inside? And is it OK to sometimes cut back to the bud what is already forming on the stem. Thanks.

    Renee

    • Hi Renee, it is good practice to dead-head your roses as you will get repeat flowerings. You can reduce the stems back to an outside bud when dead-haeding, remove dead or diseased plant material, as well as branches that may be crossing over to improve air circulation around the plant and reduce the chance of disease affecting the plants. The main season to prune roses is in June - July, before they start bursting into leaf, which can be as early as August in Auckland. It depends what sort of roses you are growing, whether they are bush roses, hybrid teas or floribundas. Hybrid teas and floribunda roses are pruned back to approximately 5 buds from the ground up, to an outside facing bud, the cut needs to be sloping (around 45 degree angle) so water runs off the wound and doesn't pool, causing disease to enter the plant. Leave 3-5 strong branches and remove any weak spindly growth.

      The Tui Team

  • Hi, I am in Dunedin and have a Margaret Merrill rose in full bloom and leaf. Should I leave it be or prune anyway in August? My other roses are almost ready for pruning .

    Tracy McArthur

    • Hi Tracy, Margaret Merrill is a lovely rose to grow because of its repeat flowering. With the cold weather that Dunedin has just had your rose will quickly stop producing flowers and new growth, it will likely now go dormant. Roses can be pruned even if they are still flowering, wait until June/July before pruning to make sure no new growth emerges as this is at risk of getting frost damage which leads to disease entering the plant. If unsure, wait until August when temperatures warm and there is less chance of severe frost damaging foliage. 

      Lianne, Tui Team

  • Hi, I live in Christchurch and have beautiful roses, but they are not doing well at all. Spider mite, brown spot, the leaves are turning yellow and some branches are dying back completely. The plants around them are now also starting to suffer. I’ve been treating them with neem oil and a special spray product for roses, without any results. I usually prune late July, but I’m desperately trying to save them. Would it do more damage if I prune them now to address all the disease and pests? Thanks

    Alta

    • Hi Alta, you can prune your roses now, do it on a fine day, use sharp tools and make sure you prune to an outward facing bud approximately 5-6 buds up from the ground. Remove diseased branches, cut a good 5cm below where the branches are dying back. Make sure you burn your rose pruning's or dispose of in the rubbish. There are several issues going on here. Die-back is a fungal disease that roses are susceptible to. It is often spread by tools such as secateurs and carried from plant to plant. Clean all pruning tools after use, use methylated spirits to do this to help stop disease spreading. A copper based spray will be good as a protectant spray for your roses to help prevent die-back, it will also help with the black spot on the leaves, which is also a fungal disease. You can also help prevent the spread of black spot by collecting up fallen leaves and disposing of in the rubbish or burning, do not compost as the fungal spores are in the soil and are spread by overhead watering or rain splash. Make sure your roses have good air circulation around them as this also helps prevent disease. To control mites you can use a specific miticide spray, talk to your local garden centre for a suitable control, or use a plant spraying oil, which can be mixed with the copper based spray, this will smother the mites and also any mite eggs that may be on the rose over the winter. Continue feeding your roses throughout the growing season with a specialty rose fertiliser, and add organic matter to the soil - lightly fork in compost or Tui Mulch & Feed around your roses, sheep pellets or Tui Super Sheep pellets are also good. Apply Tui Seaweed Plant Tonic every 2-4 weeks throughout spring, summer and autumn for healthy roses, Seaweed helps stimulate root growth, helps improve plant resistance to pests and disease, and improves overall plant health.

      Lianne, Tui Team

    • Thanks for the great advice Lianne, really appreciate it.

      Alta