What I’m Gardening This Week: Light Summer Pruning my Roses

Before we moved into our sweet Fixer Upper, we lived in a house that these beautiful rose buses on the side of the house that the previous owner planted in memory of her mother. They were big, gorgeous, and continuous-blooming roses that bloomed all season long without much care or deadheading.

Then we moved. And we have rose bushes that cover our entire west side of our house…but they don’t care for themselves like my old ones. Whoops. May have just taken about two years to realize that one. 🤦‍♀️

I’m a rose bush newbie. I didn’t grow up with beautiful lush rose bushes around my yard, I didn’t learn much more then cutting my old roses at the close of the growing season, and I haven’t picked up rose bush knowledge as I’ve grown older. So I took to the Internet, read my fair share of Better Homes & Gardens and This Old House’s, and I’m armed and ready to take to my sweet rose bushes this week to do a little light summer pruning to keep these beauties healthy and blooming longer into the season. Today, it’s all about increasing late-season blooms, deadheading, removing dead wood, and shaping the bush.

Here’s my starting point…

Not doing great, huh? I know. I’ve got work ahead of me!

But first things first, it’s time to get the right tools. I purchased these pruning shears on Amazon last week to get ready.

They have great reviews, have strong titanium steel blades, AND cut through stems upwards of 3/4″. For me and my poor unpruned, spent rose bushes, I need something solid. PLUS, there’s a 10% coupon right now with these shears so you can snag these with Amazon Prime for $17!

Now that you’re armed and ready, let’s talk details about how exactly to summer prune to prevent disease, rid your spent blooms, and get the overall shape you’d like to keep the remainder of the season!

Water Before You Cut

Plan to prune your rose bushes on a day that you’re watering. Watering thoroughly the morning of reduces heat stress on the roses and doesn’t shock them. Heavily, heavily water before you even start.

Sanitize, Sanitize, and then Sanitize Some More!

  • Before your very first cut, you must sanitize your shears (even if they’re brand new!) to ensure you aren’t spreading any disease to your plant.
  • In a bucket, combine 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.
  • Dip your shears before and after trimming so you don’t spread disease
  • If your roses resemble disease AT ALL, dip in the sanitizer bucket after each trim

The How’s and the Why’s

Your goal is to remove any dead or dying blooms or branches that rub or are close to rubbing against each other. If they’re too close to one another, it can collect too much water and damage your entire bush.

First, begin finding those spent blooms. Find a spot about 1/4″ up from where the stem meets the flower with at least 5 leaves. Cut at a 45 degree angle so that water can run off the stem instead of collecting inside and causing disease.

Remember, if you fear disease, sanitize your shears after each cut to prevent any spread!!

Next, its time to decide on your desired overall shape and size of your rose bush. Cup off the top 1/3 (NO MORE!!) of the bush to reduce its size. This may mean cutting a little more of those spent bloom stems you did earlier, but it may not be all of them.

Finally, cut away any large branches that are extending past your desired height.


It’s light pruning and not a total hack job to keep your rose bushes flowering, disease-free, and overall just continuing to be the showstoppers we see at the start of the season, all summer long! Happy Gardening this Holiday Week!

xx Rachel

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