Deadheading Roses

A Little Maintenance is the key to BEAUTIFUL Roses.

For you baby-boomers, we're not talking about the Grateful Dead. It means to remove the old flowers. Rose bushes are fruit trees in disguise and they will attempt to "set fruit." When you remove the spent blossoms, you interrupt the fruiting cycle and stimulate the plant to fruit again, producing another bloom cycle.

If you don't cut the blossoms, they become the "hip" or seed pod and the bush stops blooming. If the plant is healthy and strong:

  • The rule-of-thumb is to cut the stem just above an outward-facing, five or seven-leaflet bud.
  • Your goal is to create a vase shape with your plant allowing air circulation in the middle with no crossing branches.
  • If the plant is not healthy, cut back less. More leaves = more food for the plant.
  • Deadhead your roses weekly if not more often.
  • Landscape roses can be pruned by using hedge shears. Some are called self-cleaning and will not need any pruning.
  • David Austin Roses should not be pruned the same as Hybrid Tea, Grandiflora or Floribunda roses.
  • To allow your roses to harden for winter, stop deadheading and fertilizing around October 1.

If you own a shrub rose, like Rugosa, where hips are part of the display, just clear away the spent petals.