Pruning rose bushes in the fall means you can do a hard pruning – cutting it back down to the ground and removing all leaves and stalks – and then not worry about your roses again until spring. Or you can be more conservative and shape your bush in preparation for the next spring’s growing season.
Will a Rose Bush Survive If It Is Cut Back to the Ground?
A rose bush will not only survive if it is pruned down to having no leaves or even branches, it can thrive. In fact, you can prune a rose bush yearly down to the ground in the fall and have it grow taller and fuller the following spring. This is referred to as a hard pruning of rose bushes. It’s also recommended by the Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society that you do strip all leaves of your rose bush in the fall.
Reasons for Hard Pruning Rose Bushes
Choosing Stalks to Cut - A Conservative Fall Pruning Method
A healthy rose bush will come back in the spring even if you cut every branch down to about 1 inch from the root base. However, you can also choose to leave some branches. Robert B. Martin of the Santa Clarita Valley Rose Society recommends cutting the older stalks that are grey and have no green left to them. This will make way for the newer and younger stalks to take over and flourish. Then you can lightly prune the green stalks to any length you prefer. Before pruning, consider how tall and wide you want your bush and use that as a guide.
How to Prune a Rose Bush
Stripping the Leaves
If you have not done a hard pruning, for any green stalks that you have left, pull off any remaining leaves. This will cause your rose bush to produce new healthy leaves the following spring. This can also help prevent freeze damage and other damage because bugs will not have a place to winter on your bush.