Pruning is a straightforward process. The aim is to maintain the attractive shape of your roses and to encourage good flowering. In the winter, you should reshape your shrub and remove any old or dead wood.

During the flowering season, in warmer zones, we also recommend summer pruning between each flush of flowers, particularly when growing the more vigorous varieties. This helps to maintain the height and shape of the shrub and encourages quicker repeat flowering.
Winter pruning English shrub roses
Winter pruning should be done when the season begins to warm up and the small buds begin to swell. This will be January in the warmest zones but not until April in the coldest ones. In the colder zones, wait until the worst of the frosts have passed.

As a simple rule, prune your shrub to approximately half its size, aiming to create a nice rounded shrub. Always take time to step back and look to check that you are forming a balanced shape overall. Finish by cutting out any dead or weak stems. The only time this rule does not apply may be in the first year when the plant is still establishing. In this case prune more lightly, leaving two thirds of the shrub.
Pruning is not a precise science and you should never worry about doing any harm. You can easily adjust the size of your plant by altering the amount of growth removed when pruning. If you want a smaller shrub, it is fine to prune down to one third of its size (fig 1. line 1). If you want a larger shrub, prune to two thirds its size (fig 1. line 2). If you have taken our advice to plant English Roses closely together in groups of three, prune the three roses into the shape of one magnificent shrub.

It is generally recommended that you always make a sloping cut an inch or less above an outward facing bud. Experienced pruners tend to do this quite naturally but there is no evidence to prove that this makes a significant difference to the performance of the roses.
Winter pruning English climbers and ramblers
Climbers on obelisks, arches and poles
After planting, simply tie the stems up as they develop to create an attractive climbing rose. Allow the rose to reach the height you want. During this stage, just tidy the plant, trimming out any damaged growth. Continue to tie in the stems where necessary to support them and to maintain a good shape.
Once the rose has reached its full height, new flowering stems will start to grow out from older growth lower down on the plant. During the summer, as each of these stems finishes flowering, cut it back to three or four sets of leaves to encourage repeat flowering. At the end of each season, cut out any dead or weak stems and tie in the strong new ones.

Climbers for fences and walls
The aim here is to fan out the long, new growth and tie them to the structure so it will eventually cover it beautifully. The closer the stems are to horizontal, the higher the percentage of buds will develop into new flowering stems. Once the basic framework has formed, after the new flowering stems finish blooming, summer prune them back to 3 to 4 sets of leaves.

In winter, reshape the plant removing very old, damaged or weak stems and replacing them with fresh new growth from near to the base of the plant.

Other repeat flowering shrub roses should be cut down by between 1/3 and 2/3 but only thinned a little (Fig. 1 dotted line 1).

Bush roses (hybrid teas and floribundas) should be cut down by between 1/2 and 3/4 thinning out some of the main stems.

Non repeating shrubs should be left alone or lightly pruned by no more than 1/3 and thinned very lightly (Fig. 1 dotted line 2).

Other climbers should have the previous year's flowering shoots reduced to 3 or 4 buds or about 6" and the strong stems tied in.

Ramblers should be left to ramble at will unless they need to be constrained. Tie in new stems and cut out old stems as necessary.
Dead heading
Dead-heading is more appropriate in milder climates where the rose does not grow so vigorously. This is the removal of spent flowers during the flowering season. Dead-heading encourages repeat flowering and makes a tidier plant. Either remove just the dead flower or cut the stem down to the first full leaf.
Summer pruning English shrub roses
The nature of David Austin's English Roses is to repeat flower continuously through the season, with each flowering creating an even taller shrub. In warmer climates, they tend to grow more vigorously and can become too tall.

To prevent this, make sure you summer prune after each flush of flowering as opposed to simply deadheading. The aim is to improve repeat flowering and to maintain the overall shape of the plant.

After each flush of flowers has finished, cut back the flowering stems to two or three sets of leaves. You may also notice that the occasional new long, strong stem will appear from the base of the shrub, or sometimes grows higher up from older branches. These can grow quickly above the frame of the plant and look a little out of place at first. These stems are in fact very beneficial, forming strong, healthy new stems which will flower next season. We recommend that you trim these new stems back slightly when carrying out summer pruning, just enough to maintain the nicely rounded shape of the shrub.

Repeat flowering climbers and bush roses (hybrid teas and floribundas) will also benefit from pruning after each flowering.

Once flowering climbers and shrub roses do not need summer pruning, dead heading is sufficient.

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20 October 2016