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Cutting back bed roses

Bed or bush roses are roses which have several blossoms on one stem, whereas hybrid tea roses have only one blossom per stem. The cut is the foundation for a strong and vibrant plant with lush flowering. It generates newly growing timber, and the rose can reject diseases a lot better. If roses are not cut regularly, the flowerage gets weaker and the rose will get bald.

By the way, when cutting back your roses, there’s not too much you can do wrong – even if many books with complicated instructions give a different impression. You can confidently toss all inhibitions overboard and venture the cutting encouraged. 

It is especially important that the rose is cut strongly so that the plant can come back with vigorous growth – except if the rose is too old or has too poor nutrition. When cutting too cautiously, the wood in the lower area gets old and thick while the rose gets more susceptible to disease and breakage. It is also important for the cut to use very sharp secateurs to avoid damaging the plant and to obtain smooth cut surfaces.

Before you can start with cutting back your roses you need to free them from their frost protection of leaves and brushwood. How much each rose is then cut depends on the growing power of the individual species. Weak growing varieties can be cut back stronger than strong-growing varieties. Reason is that a rose will sprout stronger the more it has been cut back. After a massive cut the rose sprouts just a few but strong new shoots whereas a weak cut causes the sprout of many thin shoots. Strong pruning means cutting down the rose to 10 - 20 cm above the ground.

You should always cut the rose stem above an outwardly facing eye. Eyes describe the sprouting points of the branches. The cut should always be diagonal, not straight. Shoots that grow into the interior of the rose and those which cross each other should be cut off completely. Dead wood is removed at the base, in a way that you cut a bit in the adjacent healthy wood. This is important because germs like to settle in the dead wood. Also, the dead wood robs space for new shoots, so get rid of it. You can recognize it by its dryly brown colour. Wild shoots which sprout below the bud union should also be removed.

Having correctly cut back your roses, you will finally achieve a full and bushy overall shape of the rose bush which will already sprout blossoms in the lower parts of the plant. The cut will furthermore retain your roses vital and healthy.