How to Deadhead Roses the Right Way So They Keep Blooming

Try these tips for snipping faded blooms from your rose bushes, and you'll be rewarded with tidier-looking plants that will fill your garden with new flowers.

Removing wilted blooms (known as deadheading) from your roses is an easy way to give your garden a tidy appearance. It also encourages your plants to produce new flowers. How to deadhead roses depends on their type, but in general, the easiest way is to snip off the spent rose at the end of its short stem, above any foliage. Removing the old blooms stops the plant from putting energy into developing seeds and encourages it to produce more flowers.

Not all roses need deadheading, and some need a little more care than just snipping off the old blooms, so follow the tips below for the variety you're growing. Other than knowing which type of rose you're working with, all you need for the job is a good pair of gardening shears.

Deadheading red roses
Jason Donnelly

Deadheading Hybrid Tea Roses

The general rule for deadheading hybrid teas is to find the top set of five leaflets, then cut the stem below that at the second set of five leaflets. You can cut off the entire bloom from late summer to early fall, resulting in more stem and leaf growth, which is essential for roses heading into a dormant winter. However, if you do this earlier in the season, the roses will produce more flowers on shorter stems. By deadheading early, you could cut away hybrid teas' best feature—their long stems—so decide which you prefer, more flowers or longer stems, and deadhead accordingly.

Rose garden
Laurie Black

Deadheading Floribunda and Spray Roses

Instead of producing a single flower per stem like other varieties, floribunda and spray roses tend to produce clusters of blooms. So when you're deadheading, you can make your cuts anywhere below the entire cluster of spent roses along the stem.

pink double knock-out rose bush
Dean Schoeppner

Deadheading Shrub Roses

A lot of shrub roses, including the famous Knock Out, are bred to shed spent blooms on their own. The good news is you might never need to deadhead these self-cleaning roses, but you still might want to clean them up based on how they look.

Because shrubs only produce flowers from new growth, trimming them back will make more branching and new growth, which increases the potential quantity of blooms. Deadheading Knock Out roses, and other varieties of shrub roses is simple: Remove the flower and its short stem.

How to Prune Roses

Usually, you won't have to do much pruning for most varieties of roses. In spring, look carefully at your plants and cut dead canes (stems) as close to the ground as possible. Spring is also the best time to cut back the tops of rose bushes if you want them to have a uniform shape.

Avoid pruning roses in the fall. Because pruning spurs more growth, stop deadheading or cutting blooms for bouquets a few weeks before your area's first frost date. As the weather gets colder, your roses will begin to go dormant, moving their energy reserves into their roots to help them survive the winter. If you keep pruning throughout fall, this process will stop.

However, it's a good idea to prune tall modern roses, like hybrid teas and grandifloras, down to about four feet in the fall. This pruning, called "heading back," helps keep the plants from whipping around in winter winds.

Regardless of the type you're growing, don't stress about how to deadhead roses. Unless you really start hacking away at your plants, it's hard to deadhead them too much. Once your roses blossom, stroll through your garden every few days with your shears and snip off any faded blooms. It won't take much time, and it can significantly affect how long your blooms last and how many flowers your rose bushes produce each year.

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