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How to Prune Rosebushes

Pruning a rosebush removes old and dead growth, improving the health of the plant and making room for new buds.


  • Step 1: To keep your arms, legs, and eyes safe from scratches, put on a long-sleeved shirt, pants, gloves, and safety glasses. If you have long hair, pull it back with an elastic or hair clip.
  • Step 2: When your rosebush is starting to bud, look carefully at each stem, also called a "rose cane." A dead cane looks dry, brittle, and possibly broken, while healthy canes show signs of bud growth. Using the bypass shears, cut all the dead canes away from the base of the plant. For hard-to-cut canes, use a pruning saw.
  • TIP: If the exposed stem is brown, keep cutting until you reach healthy, greenish-white plant material.
  • Step 3: Cut off any canes that rub against each other and older stems that are slow to bud. Ideally, you want to leave approximately four that are strong and healthy on the bush and remove the rest.
  • Step 4: On the remaining canes, do some additional moderate pruning. Cut each healthy cane about a quarter-inch above a "bud eye" or new growth. This allows more air and light to reach the plant, producing a beautiful rosebush later in the season.
  • FACT: During the 15th Century, two warring factions in England used red and white roses as their symbols.

You Will Need

  • Long-sleeve work shirt
  • Long pants
  • Safety glasses
  • Garden or work gloves
  • Bypass pruning shears
  • Pruning saw
  • Hair elastic or clip (optional) (optional) (optional)

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