How to Cut a Rose Bush

Master these simple rules on trimming roses and your plant's growth will produce a pleasing shape and habit for the rest of the season.

If you're searching for the easiest way prune a rose bush or to simply cut a few stems, look no further. It's a simple task that, when done the right way, will reward you with stunning flowers and that sweet garden rose fragrance. These step-by-step instructions make it easy.

How to Grow Easy Roses

Cut at an Angle

The key to a bountiful bouquet is the angle of your cut. Make cuts at a 45-degree angle, about 1/4 inch above a leaf axle with a dormant eye. The sap will rise from the rosecane and run down the opposite side of the leaf when cutting a rose bush correctly. When cutting out diseased foliage, dip your pruners in rubbing alcohol between cuts to prevent spreading the disease.

Gardening Tip: Remember to sharpen your pruning tools periodically—either do it yourself or have someone who is specially trained do it. Wipe metal surfaces after each use with a soft, lightly-oiled rag to prevent rust. Store tools in a dry area.

Basic Rose Care

Cut Down and Away

Choose an eye on the outside of the cane and slope the cut down and away on the opposite side while cutting a rose bush. This allows excess natural sap to rise and seal the cut without interfering with the developing eye. Pruning to an outward-facing bud also promotes outward growth, opens up the plant to air circulation, creates pleasing shapes, resists disease, and prevents the canes from becoming a tangle. Cuts closer to the eye than 1/4 inch may damage it. Cuts higher than that will leave a visible stubble—a haven for both pests and disease.

Check for Foliage

If the rose bush has foliage present, the location for your cut is easy to spot. Where there is no foliage to guide you, find the dormant eye by locating where the foliage was once connected. The eye is normally visible as a slight swelling above the surface of the cane. Use this same rose pruning technique when cutting a rose bush for display and when removing spent blooms.

More Tips for Pruning Roses


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