General gardening topics

Pruning Rosa Rugosa Roses

Last updated on January 21st, 2020

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If you are growing Rose Rugosa, you may find that pruning becomes necessary now and again. These are wonderful shrub roses that are very easy to grow and very strong. You can use them as hedges very effectively, particularly if you want to encourage a lot of wildlife such as bees, pollinators, beneficial insects, and birds.  Rose pruning is important because it encourages more vigorous and floriferous development in the following years. Regular pruning is moderately difficult and suitable for all shrub roses. The timing no matter the variety you have should be after flowering, and again in late winter. So whether it is a light or heavy pruning you need to do, follow these steps:

Question – How to prune Rosa Rugosa

Answer – Lightly prune to shape after flowering and remove any dead, crossing or diseased branches. At the end of winter remove 1 in every 5 older stems to make way for new vigorous stems.

When to prune

when to prune Rosa Rugosa roses

You should prune your shrubs roses at the end of winter when the growth is just starting to pick up. This is usually around the middle of February if you live in Southern England but if you live in the Northern areas that are colder you might have to postpone until around March. Deadheading, by comparison, can be completed at any time in the summer after the flowering has commenced but some people like to leave the bright hips on as they are very attractive.

Unlike regular rose bushes, shrub roses produce flowers on older wood so you need to let them develop naturally, something you can encourage by maintaining the plant with light, regular pruning. The older wood and the younger more vigorous growth need to remain in balance. The older roses usually manifest in the arching habitat but they need enough space to do that whereas the shorter stems will restrict the shape but might be better suited to your garden if you don’t have space for large, arching growth.

How to Prune

Growing Rosa Rugosa and care

Light prune after flowering

As this type of plants produces a single flush of flowers you can prune them at the end of summer once flowering has been completed. The main purpose of this pruning is to keep your plants free from any dead, diseased, or otherwise damaged wood. You also want to use this time to cut away any crossing branches or rubbing branches. Any growth that has taken on a spindly effect and is not as healthy as the rest should be done away with as well.

Remove around 1 out of every 5 old branches to ground level

You do not want a buildup of unproductive, old wood in the centre of your shrub as this will reduce air circulation and form a very crowded hedge. Even if you are using this particular shrub rose as your hedge you don’t want it to become too crowded in the middle of it will lead to things like mildew. So, you should remove one or two for every five to six of the older branches from the middle.

If the middle branches have become leggy and bare particularly around the base, you can remove one or two stems all the way back to ground level. Doing that sparsely on an annual basis will encourage new growth from the base of the plant.

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2 Comments

  1. Heidi Pilone

    My Rosa rigosa are very healthy. I would like to keep them from growing to high, ideally around 2 ft. When should I cut them to ground level yearly?

  2. John

    Hi Heidi, I would cut them back at the end of summer after flowering but you don’t usually cut them back to ground level, I would prune lightly to encourage new growth and prune back some of the old stems to ground level. Hope this helps.

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