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

Pruning Rose Bushes in the FallCredit: Flickr: 悠遊山城.樹玫瑰.庭園美食There are several good reasons you may want to do a hard pruning of your rose bush. If it is too large and taking over any area, this will help contain it for next years’ growth. Also if you live in a region that gets too cold for your particular variety, then this will protect it from damage and save you the work of having to prune back freeze damaged stalks in the spring. It’s also just an easy way to care for roses. If you are just an average gardener who does not relish spending hours in the garden, then a once a year hard pruning of the rose bushes in fall is easy and time saving.

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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

Cut the stalks low to the ground rather than pruning from the top down. You can use any pruning shears you prefer, although for old bushes with thick branches, you may need some loppers. Cut the stalk just above the bud union closest to the ground for hard pruning. This is the swollen or knotty part of the rose branch. For light pruning of the green stalks, also prune above the swollen part of the branch at the height you want.

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.