General gardening topics

Pruning Rosa Rugosa Roses

Last updated on March 14th, 2022

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If you are growing Rose Rugosa, you may find that pruning becomes necessary every 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 done after flowering and again in the late winter. So whether it is a light or heavy pruning you need to do, follow these steps:

Question – How do you 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

You should prune your shrub 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, however, if you live in the Northern areas that are colder you might have to postpone this step until around March. Deadheading, by comparison, can be completed at any time in the summer after the flowering has commenced although some people like to leave the bright hips on because they are very attractive.

when to prune Rosa Rugosa roses

Unlike regular rose bushes, shrub roses produce flowers on old 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 so, 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 plant 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 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 build-up of unproductive, old wood in the centre of your shrub because 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 as it can lead to problems 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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  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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