Pruning roses in autumn: sensible or not?

rose bush
rose bush

Spring pruning, summer pruning, fall pruning: rose fans have plenty of opportunities to reach for the scissors during the season. But is it reasonable? Pruning roses in the fall, in particular, is controversial.

Just over 20 years ago, pruning roses in autumn was common practice even in public rose gardens. Especially the shoots of bedding roses and noble roses were all cut back again slightly at the end of the season. The reason: the annual shoots of most roses do not fully mature in the fall, so the shoot tips remain unlignified and do not complete their growth. Since they are extremely sensitive to frost, they usually freeze back to the woody sections at the first sub-zero temperatures.

In the past, it was assumed that the expected frost damage will adversely affect the vitality of roses, and therefore cut off the unlignified ends already in the fall without further ado. Today we know that frost damage is not problematic. The uncut rose shoots may even somewhat slow down the cold easterly winds and shade the base of the bush during strong winter sunshine.

Autumn pruning in the rose bed

If you have pure, densely planted rose beds in your garden, autumn pruning is still sometimes useful. The shoots of roses often form such a dense undergrowth that winter protection is hardly possible because you cannot reach the base of the bush. In this case, first simply shorten all the crisscrossing rose shoots a bit and then heap the base of each rose with compost soil as usual.

When pruning in the fall, you do not have to cut exactly to the bud, because when you prune the roses in the spring, the shoots are cut down even further anyway. It is simply a matter of cutting off as little as possible, but enough so that you can easily reach the base of the bush of the roses.

Autumn pruning for standard roses

Light autumn pruning can also be useful for bedding roses grafted on stems, the so-called standard roses. In this type of roses, the grafting point and also the shoots are very exposed and therefore particularly susceptible to frost damage. Therefore, you should wrap the crown base well and ideally wrap the entire crown in winter fleece in cold, drafty locations. This is much easier if you cut back the shoots a little beforehand.

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