Can I prune a budding rosebush?

blaze08April 17, 2009

I have several rose bushes on my property. This is the first spring that I have lived in the house, and wanted to prune the roses. I read online that a good sign of when to prune is when the forsythia blooms. I have noticed that it is now indeed blooming in my area of upstate New York, so I purchased my pruning equipment and planned to do the pruning this weekend. I noticed that my rose bushes are budding (leaves). Is it still ok to prune them?

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diane_nj 6b/7a

Yes. I haven't pruned yet (who only knows when I will), but I need to and some of mine have leafed out already (Baby Faurax, you know who you are). Go for it.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 4:51PM
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Why do you want to prune roses that might be once-bloomers and you are pruning off their bloom.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 7:36PM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

I think blaze08 meant that the forsythia is blooming.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 8:47PM
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I live on the ocean ten miles north of Boston and the Forsythia is just about to bloom here (lots of swelling yellow buds and a very few open flowers). I am now pruning the roses on the condo property where I live. The roses' stem buds are just now swelling and the first little leaves are expanding on one of the climbing roses I'm working on now.

If you mean to ask whether it's okay to prune roses that are just putting forth their first spring growth from swelling buds, yes, that's fine. In fact, that's the best thing to do in the spring. Just be aware that those swelling buds are brittle, fragile, and break off easily (and you usually don't want to break off the ones remaining after you've pruned), so have a delicate hand (and body) as you move among the intact canes to take out the stems you don't want.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 9:52PM
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Blaze, it's hard to say when and what to prune; especially if you don't know what roses you have. We moved into a new house, I brought the bulk of my roses with me, planted them during the summer. This is their 1st spring.

I went and pruned a week ago. I didn't do any heavy pruning, instead only what was dead, and pruned a bunch of hips off. This worked out well because a few days later, I went outside to find a lot of my roses eaten by deer & rabbits.

If you have no clue what yo have, you're best bet is to do what I did. Once they are done blooming you can do more pruning if you need to.

How large are the bushes and how much were you planning to prune?

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 8:57AM
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Thank you all for your responses.

I have three separate rose bushes. Two are fairly small (2ft) and one is quite large (6+ft tall). I have never pruned roses before and was using this site as a reference:

I was planning to just prune off dead wood, and the hips, as I really have no idea what I'm doing :)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 10:01AM
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Thank you, Roselvr, for a common sensical advice to another potential rose-addicted gardener :-)

It doesn't matter if the forsythia are blooming when you don't know what you are pruning. Most of us who have been here a while and certainly those of us who have been long-time members of rose societies should know that, if these are once-bloomers or ramblers, the bloom will be gone for the year.

There is a time to prune when you don't know what your rose is and that is after it blooms and by it blooming, it may give the owner an opportunity to take pictures so he/she will know what it is next time.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 11:09AM
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roseman(Z 8A GA)

Of course you can. In some cases, you have to do so. Here, we prune on or about Valentine's Day. If the roses have budded or leafed out, we prune them back anyway. They will recover. Not a problem at all.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 12:29PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

At any time you can prune off dead, injured, and diseased tissue and remove old hips, so go ahead and do that.

Then post pictures when they bloom of flower, bud, leaf/thorn, and whole bush. You'll get an ID and can get pruning guidelines..

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 1:08PM
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catsrose(VA 6)

Do not prune until you know what you have! Many--in fact, most--roses do not need or appreciate pruning. Go to and read the newsletter article on pruning before you do anything.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 8:27AM
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carla17(Z7 NC)

I think everyone has sufficiently confused the OP by now.
It is true that if you don't know what type of rose it is, you could cut off the blooms, which in my mind is a minor disaster because you may have to wait another year to see them. I suspect the forsythia rule needs to be adjusted for certain climates and rose types.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 6:27PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Once again, a cleanup pruning such as the OP intends can be done at any time with no risk of any kind of harm. There is no argument about this. If she were planning on whacking the plant down to 6", that would be a mistake. I think we would all agree on those points.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 7:49PM
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