Winter Rose Pruning - Floribunda Rose Type
Floribunda Rose Type

Winter Rose Pruning - Instructions on When & How

The winter rose pruning is done all year round, except in the spring, summer and autumn.

It takes courage, tools and equipments and a giant dose of self-denial to accomplish it. Under unfavorable conditions, the rose lover is required to carry out a pruning work that requires maximum concentration, knowledge of the subject and some skills – something like quantum physics.

This is why many times, the rose lover, it happens to quit before it even begins. And then it happens to wonder that the flowering of its rose is not the expected or that its plant has acquired planetary dimensions.

Even worse: it happens to be wonder on the website of ‘Kalliergeia‘ reading the article with the extremely loopy title ‘Winter Rose Pruning – Instructions on When & How‘.

Heaven forbid.

Proper pruning helps, among other things, to increase the flowering of roses, in blooming season.

Winter Rose Pruning - Well Pruned Rose Bush
Fine Pruned Rose Bush
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When to Pruning

The exact start and run time is related to the variety of rose, region and microclimate. The variety is mentioned because, among other things,  one bloom period roses are not pruning in winter unless they need to be shaped or controlled.

In general it can be said that the winter rose pruning starts from mid December in the northern regions and from the beginning of January in the south until the end of February. At that time the roses are in the phase of winter rest and pruning is carried out even on those plants that happen to have even few leaves, which are removed.

Pruning is avoided only when frost prevails or is expected to prevail.

Of course, in areas where the climate is not Mediterranean and the winters are extremely severe, pruning takes place after the last expected frost – or in early spring, when the flowering of Forsythia begins.

Winter Rose Pruning

Winter Rose Pruning - Pruning Inner Branch of Rose Bush
Pruning Inner Branch of Rose Bush

Winter Rose Pruning - Shrubs

On shrub roses the branches are cut to 1/3 with 1/4 of their base leaving them with a length of between 15 and 30 cm.

If the plant is vigorous, up to 7 branches can be left and at distances between them to form a conceivable cup. Less vivid plants leave 3-4 branches.

Also, as is the case with all roses, regardless of shape or type, the weak and dead wood branches are completely removed.

The cuts are always made at a 45-degree angle, just a few millimeters above a bud, that is facing toward the outside of the plant.

The exact length of the remaining part of the branch is directly related to the vigor and robustness of the plant.

However, in any case, the old way of pruning the rose at 20 to 30 cm from the ground is no longer followed.

And the reason is that, within the limits previously mentioned, the greater the percentage of tissue remaining in the plant, the more it has at its disposal the nutrients and energy to make use of it in the coming bloom period.

Winter Rose Pruning

Winter Rose Pruning - Unpruned Rose Bush
Unpruned Rose Bush

Pruning Tree Rose Plants

In general, the same pruning tactic followed in the bushes is also applied to the roses of a tree-like form.

However, it must be borne in mind that tree roses to grow properly require a well-thought-out configuration on a strong trunk.

In all tree roses the main branches – their arms above the level of crossing, constitute the secondary basis for the permanent ‘mechanical‘ support of the new vegetation.

If they are not properly formed, the growth of the plant will be one-sided, which will result in undesirable tilting of the plant.

In order to create a straight trunk and thus a plant that will not tilt, it is essential that the main branches – arms are distributed ‘weighed’ around the trunk and equally as far as possible.

With this in mind, 3 to 5 main arm branches are formed or maintained.

The winter rose pruning takes place on them, but always on the logic that the branches to be left will have to contribute to the proper distribution of the weight of the new vegetation, as described above.

Also, as with bushes rose, pruning should ensure that the sunlight and air reaches the interior of the plants.

A such treatment expands the folliage surface which can support more flowers, and at the same time creates a “micro-enviroment” that do not favor the potential pests and pathogens to affect the rose plants.

Winter Rose Pruning

Winter Rose Pruning - Properly Pruned Tree Rose
Properly Pruned Tree Rose
Pink Roses in Garden

Rose Planting

In Garden, Pots & Containers

Pruning Climbing and Ground Cover Roses

The climbing roses is pruned a little differently. The predominantly climbing branches do not mind unless they have exceeded the limits within which it is desirable to grow.

The stems derived from these main branches are pruned in 4 to 6 buds from the base.

Little varied tactics are also followed for all those roses that grow on soil surface, the ground cover roses.

Of course, a crucial difference with regard to the winter pruning of the rose of all other forms is that they are not pruned annually but once every 2 to 3 years.

The exact time span for the pruning has to do with the vigor of the plants and the extent of the covered area.

Winter Rose Pruning

Winter Rose Pruning - Pruned Climbing Rose
Pruned Climbing Rose

The After Pruning

After the pruning has been completed, the cuts are covered with woundpaste wherever possible.

Such treatment accelerates healing and gives the appropriate protect to the roses from pathogen entry.

The end of this work followed by spraying the roses with a copper-based plant protection product.

Winter Rose Pruning


The References of the article that bears the cold (brrr …) title Winter Rose Pruning – Instructions on When & How are presented by the Guns N ‘Roses with the song Paradise City.

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