George says: This is how to prune your roses

This climbing rose has been cut back hard on old stems each year to create this framework.

By George Blackwell, Bibury Gardening Club member
Photographs and captions by Victoria Summerley

Now is the time of the year to prune your roses. Choose a sunny day, don a sturdy pair of gloves, find a pair of secateurs or loppers and face the thorny bushes.

1 Take a good look at the rose bush. Look for dead wood, plus any growth coming out of the rootstock. These should be removed.

2 Seek out last year’s growth. These will be the straight shoots with no side shoots. 

3 A rose bush needs to be hard-pruned so first cut all growth down to 18” (45cms) from the ground. 

4 Look at the centre of the bush. If it needs thinning out, only leave last year’s growth. 

5 Now you are left with last year’s growth look for an eye bud on the outside of the stem. 

6 Just above the eye, cut off the top growth. Do this on all stems.



BEFORE: This newly planted rose is 'Peace', a hybrid tea. Note the top shoot on the
right-hand stem. It’s a healthy new shoot, but it’s facing inwards, which means that it’s likely to restrict air circulation at the centre of the plant, or rub against another stem.


 AFTER: The inward-facing shoot has been pruned, leaving the outward facing shoot to grow away. Cutting the stem at an angle away from the shoot means water is less likely to sit on the cut, or freeze around the shoot in cold weather.


7 Place some compost around the base or fertilizer 

8 Spray with a blackspot solution on green leaves before flowering, but apply in the evening when the sun goes down, to avoid scorching. 

9 Watch out for the greenfly that will attack the young buds, spray with a bug killer aerosol  

10 Hopefully your rose will give many more flowers over many weeks. Enjoy your roses!

Standard roses 

The same principles apply as for bush roses but cut all new shoots to 12” (30cms) above the stem. This will encourage the shoots become strong enough to sustain breakages on windy days.

Climbing or rambling roses

With these types of roses you need to trace along the main artery branches. Find the new growth from last season, then cut back to within three inches of the main branch just above an eye bud. Thin out dead wood and tie any loose shoots back to the wall to keeping the rose climbing.


A rambling rose like this one (Rosa Felicite et Perpetue) will scramble all over a wall or a pergola. See how shoots are breaking out along the length of the stem? Keeping the main branches of climbers and ramblers horizontal as much as you can will provide a framework that is covered with flowers, rather than a bunch of flowers at the top of one long vertical stem.

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