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Pruning Professionally


Late winter is a good time for pruning in many regions. Pruning deciduous plants in the winter promotes fast regrowth in the spring, as most plants are dormant during the winter. It’s also easier to see the shape of deciduous plants in the winter, since their foliage is gone. With temperatures fluctuating as they have this year here in Virginia it’s important to know WHEN to prune.  

Our focus for this issue is Rose plants. If you live where winters are mild and temperatures rarely dip below 15°F (–9°C) such as Hampton Roads it’s best to do your pruning about the first of each year. January or February is usually the best time. Any pruning after the first frost but before really cold weather sets in usually signals the plant to grow. New canes or shoots are very tender and cold weather will kill them.

In areas with very mild winters, rose plants never really go completely dormant or drop all their leaves, so you have to prune with some foliage still on the plant — late December to February are usual times.

In climates where winters are cold or pretty cold (15°F or –9°C and lower), avoid pruning in fall. It’s best to wait until winter sets in or you may signal the plant to grow leaving it open to damage later in the season.

Where winter temperatures predictably reach 10°F (–12°C) and lower, wait until after the coldest weather has ended and any winter damage to the plant has already occurred. That’s usually about a month before the average date of the last spring frost — March or April for most people — and coincides nicely with when you remove your winter protection. Your local nursery or cooperative extension office can give you exact frost dates for your area.

Whenever you take a pruner to a rose cane, ask yourself why. If you don’t stop to question your pruning, you may not get the effect you want.


You use three types of pruning cuts when pruning roses. Each one generates a very predictable response from the plant. As your pruning prowess grows, you’ll find yourself using a combination of all three types of cuts:

  • Thinning removes a branch at its origin — that is, it cuts a branch back to another branch or to the base of the plant. Usually, thinning doesn’t result in vigorous growth below the cut. The result of thinning is that the plant is more open and less densely branched. Air circulation improves, which helps prevent disease.
  • Cutting back a dormant bud stimulates that bud to grow. If you’re pruning during the dormant season — when the rose is resting and leafless in winter — the bud won’t grow until spring, but this type of cut focuses the plant’s energy into that one bud and maybe one or two buds below it. Pruning back to a bud is the best way to direct plant growth and to channel energy into specific canes that you want to bloom.
  • Shearing is a more aggressive type of pruning but is sometimes effective. Use hedge clippers to whack off a portion of the plant. The result is vigorous growth below the cuts and a denser, fuller plant. Shearing is particularly effective with landscape roses, especially if you plant them as hedges.



  1.  How to prune roses: Authors The National Gardening Association, Bob Beckstrom, Karan Davis Cutler, Kathleen Fisher, Phillip Giroux, Judy Glattstein, Michael MacCaskey, Bill Marken, Charlie Nardozzi, Sally Roth, Marcia Tatroe,Lance Walheim, and Ann Whitman from Gardening All-in-One For Dummies(Article) Retrieved From:

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