When should I prune my roses?

That’s not such an easy question to answer.  I’ve been pruning roses in the Kingman area for 13 years now, and every year it seems to be different.

If I prune too soon, there is a good chance we may have a late frost that may damage new blooms.  If pruned too late, the rose bush may not reach its full glory in spring.

I have several customers who still have roses on their plants- and it’s January!  It’s been a mild winter so far, this year, and the roses in some areas of Kingman haven’t gone dormant yet (if they do at all). Your rose bush needs to go dormant each year for its health. It’s possible to force dormancy by applying a high-potassium, late-season fertilizer. Doing this will help ensure a healthy rose bush that will reward you with large beautiful roses in spring.

January is a good time to spray a larger than usual dose of a horticultural oil, copper fungicide, and a good all-purpose insecticide.

Back to pruning; I wait until about two to three weeks before the last frost of the season (late January - early February) to prune. When I prune, I cut out all the dead wood, take the rose bush down to about 30 inches and leave 4 to 6 healthy canes. Open the center to let sunlight into the middle of your rose bush. I also remove all remaining leaves, this of course leaves bare green canes that can gather their strength to start the new season. Other than pruning for the health of the rose bush- we all have different likes as far as the looks of our rose bush, shape to your satisfaction.