how to prune standard roses

Rose bushes are a beautiful addition to any garden, but they require some maintenance. With the right pruning, your rose bushes will be stronger and more beautiful than ever.

This guide will teach you how to prune standard roses correctly. We will also discuss the basics of rose tree pruning and some tips for maintaining your rose garden.

What Is a Standard Rose?

small rose tree topped with pink blooms

A standard rose is the traditional rose bush with one main stem and three other canes. Standard roses are generally about 24″ tall and wide, have 5-8 large petals each, and 15-20 smaller ones around the perimeter. 

By paying special attention to the upright stem with one main cane, you can clearly differentiate a regular rose from climbing roses, patio roses, rambling roses, flowering shrub roses, and hybrid tea roses.

Why Do You Need to Prune Your Roses?

Roses need a little pruning every year to stay healthy, especially for standard roses. There are several reasons for pruning your rose bushes:

Keep Your Roses Healthy

Removing dead, diseased, and damaged branches to keep your plant healthy.

Facilitate Repeat Flowering

Roses can produce multiple seasons of blooms from one season’s growth. Over time, the new flowering shoots will continue to emerge at the plant base.

Encourage Larger Blooms

pink flowers in garden 1

Releasing the plant’s natural energy means you get more flowers that will be larger and longer-lasting. Pruning will help you get as many flowers as possible during the flowering season.

Encourage New Growth

This enhances your garden’s appearance by creating a solid framework of canes for your roses to grow on. 

Train New Growth

You can train new growth to stay in the desired shape. Roses can be pruned throughout the growing season to shape their aerial growth.

What Type of Pruning Do Standard Roses Need?

pruning red roses

There are two types of pruning that standard roses will generally require: rejuvenation and corrective.

Rejuvenation Pruning

Rejuvenation is when you remove all dead or diseased stems and canes to encourage new growth from the healthier, younger ones.

To perform basic rejuvenation or light pruning, take out all dead stems, leaving you with one cane per bush. Cut the remaining stems back to 24″ above the ground.

If you want to take out large old canes in later years (recommended every 4-5 years), use a saw or loppers to cut the cane back to an upright bud below the height of your choice. This will redirect energy from old canes into new growth.

Corrective Pruning

Corrective pruning is when you remove older branches that are too low or too tall. This will help maintain the shape of your rose.

Pruning for shape may also include selective thinning to remove less productive stems to focus the plant’s energy and encourage new growth. 

When Is the Best Time for Pruning Roses in the UK?

Regardless of the species of rose, the best time to prune roses is in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Pruning should only happen during dry weather so that the open wounds don’t get infected by fungus or bacteria.

What Tools Are Needed for Standard Roses Pruning?

Just like when you’re pruning climbing roses, the tools you’ll need will depend on the size of the job. Use sharp secateurs or small clippers to cut back stems.

If you are taking out large old canes, a pruning saw might be helpful.

How to Prune Standard Roses in 7 Steps

When pruning your roses, select a time after flowering has stopped before new growth begins in the spring. Follow the steps below for how to prune a bush rose:

Step 1: Wear Protective Equipment

Before beginning, put on a pair of gloves and safety glasses to prevent getting the thorns caught in your skin or eyes,

Step 2: Remove Any Dead Leaves

Lightly pinch off any dead leaves still hanging onto a stem. This will give you a better look at the plant when making your cuts.

Step 3: Begin Pruning

Take your rose bush and cut a third of the plant off with a pair of bypass pruners. This will be a little bit less than halfway down the central cane. 

Cut just above a bud pointing away from the main cane. This will encourage growth horizontally instead of vertically.

Step 4: Cut Back Stems to the Right Length

Cut back stems to the correct length. The best way to determine this is by first securing your rose bush in the desired position using stakes and string.

Next, use one hand to bend the stem down to where you want it while applying gentle pressure with your other hand until it stays in place. After cutting the stem, you’ll notice that it will naturally lean towards your other hand.

Step 5: Remove Smaller Branches or Weak Growth

cutting back thorny stem

Use pruning shears to cut any growth just below your desired length. Don’t take out any growth facing away from the central cane, as this will redirect energy to healthier parts of the plant.

If you see any weak branches, prune them out and any that are growing below or above your desired length to make your rose bush stronger and healthier.

Step 6: Apply Fungicide

After cutting, apply fungicide every 10-14 days until it is completely healed.

Step 7: Seal the Wounds

Now that you know how to prune rose trees, the next step is to seal any wound to promote faster healing and prevent rot from setting in.

First, clean the area around the wound with rubbing alcohol or peroxide on a cotton ball. Then apply white glue. Wait for the area to dry fully before fertilising your rose bush to prevent burning your plant.

Rose Pruning Made Easy

You can have a beautiful rose bush again now that you know how to prune standard roses correctly! Ensure that you apply fungicide and seal the wound to prevent rot from setting in.

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