How to Prune and Deadhead Roses

Pruning roses stimulates bush growth and encourages the bush to produce larger blooms. Deadheading roses is a form of pruning and should be done regularly throughout the blooming season. Follow these pruning tips for keeping your rose bushes healthy and vigorously growing all summer.

pruning roses


Removing the spent blooms from any flower is called deadheading. The flower heads are dead and need to be removed so they don’t continue to use up the plant’s energy. Deadheading also keeps the rose bush looking nice and prevents the development of rosehip later on in the fall.

To deadhead, remove all blooms when they begin to fade with a pair of sharp shears. Snip off the fading bloom all they way back to the next leaf on the stem. Deadhead roses at least once a week to keep the bloom production going strong.


Severe pruning should only be done in the early spring as soon as all danger of frost has past. The rose bush can be pruned back to as short as one foot tall (if desired) in early spring. Use a pair of sharp pruning shears and cut the outer canes shorter than the middle canes to create a semi-circle across the top of the bush. Cut off any diseased or woody canes in the middle of the bush too by cutting them off at the main stalk.

Feed bushes with a side dressing of a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer immediately after pruning in the spring. Never prune rose bushes in the late fall or winter. Pruning promotes growth and the cold air temperatures will kill the new, tender growth that pruning causes and may kill the entire plant.

Bloom Cuts

Part of the joy of growing roses is cutting off some of the blooms to enjoy indoors. Cutting off blooms throughout the summer is a form of pruning and needs to be done properly to stimulate more growth. Select the partially opened rose bud to be cut (it will finish opening after being harvested from the bush), then look down the stem the rose is on until you spot the first tiny bud at a leaf conjuction on the stem. That is where the cut needs to be made. Use sharp shears and cut at a 90 degree angle, with the high end of the stem just above the bud. A new cane with grow from that bud and produce several more rose blooms.