How to Revive your Roses

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How to Revive your Roses



Today’s blog is designed to keep you growing those roses of success! Today we have you covered with our complete guide: How to revive your roses.

Pruning: The ultimate method to revive your roses


Pruning is a non negotiable if you desire healthy, flowering roses full of vitality. Roses that are left to fend for themselves quite often become susceptible to a number of issues. If these issues aren’t rectified they could end the life of your plant.

Not only does pruning act as a defense against disease, it actively promotes plant health, regular flowerings and better growth. Making delicate cuts to rose branches encourages the plant to generate the hormone ‘auxin’.  This hormone activates in the stem of the rose and, when triggered it will make its way to freshly cut branches. This process stimulates the growth of new shoots which help to revive your roses!

Maintenance is the third and final reason we gardeners prune our roses.  Pruning acts to shape your plant. Pruning will protect your rose from growing in a way that may negatively impact its health and flowering capabilities.

When is Best to revive your roses?


The majority of species of rose benefit most from pruning around the end of winter, leading into spring time (February-March). But wait! Don’t all rush for your shears just yet!

As with all plants, there are exceptions to the rule. Fortunately our guide covers everything from climbers to shrubs. As passionate gardeners we wanted to ensure all species receive the correct care required. Use our table of contents to select a specific plant easily, have a quick read…and then its time begin!

 The Basic Principles


These tips here are designed to be applicable to pretty much all types of roses.  Read on for information on how to handle those trickier customers. Be sure to have your best padded gloves and your sharpest shears to hand before you get stuck in!

  • When pruning your rose near an existing bud, you want to cut around 5mm above it in a downwards motion. This will stop water assembling on the bud itself. This method of cutting is fully versatile and can be used when tackling dead wood, deadheading or for general maintenance.


  • If you would like your roses to maintain a more open structure, focus your attention towards pruning the rose buds that face outwards. Alternatively you may want to encourage a more upright growth.  To achieve this prune the buds that face inwards.


  • If you have a more mature rose, you can approach the situation with a little less delicacy.  If you have stems that are no longer producing flowers eliminate them.  You may need the assistance of a pruning saw if you have thicker branches to contend with.


  • You want to achieve the cleanest cuts possible to revive your roses, so make sure your tools are the sharpest in the box.


  • Remove any diseased, dead or overlapping stems.  Keep black bags on hand for any debris and do not use for compost!


  • You want stems with plenty of space to achieve maximum air flow.


How to Revive your Roses: Climbing Roses


Climbing roses are all too often mistaken for rambling roses and vice versa.  Both types of flower need support to grow, and are often tall or have lengthy stems. So we can see why all the confusion occurs.

Climbers and ramblers are pruned at different times of the year so knowing which species you have on your hands is vital. Climbers are best maintained in the months of Dec-Feb.  Routinely ramblers seek revival around late summer, autumn time.

A foolproof method for distinguishing which type of plant you have is to pay attention to when it flowers.  Climbers tend to repeat flower all through the summer months whereas ramblers normally only flower once, usually in June.


Okay so now you are sure you have a climber on your hands, you can begin to revive your roses. There are two approaches to pruning climbers.  The first relates to training young plants (climbers need to be secured to a sturdy support to help it grow) and the second covers a general rejuvenation routine to be applied yearly or whenever appropriate.


Routine Rejuvenation: Young Roses


  • When using horizontal wires for early support you want to set your base wire 45cm from the ground.  Further wires can then be added, we recommend keeping them at least 30cm apart from one another.


  • If you are training your roses on a more upright structure such as an arch or pillar, twist your shoots at a horizontal angle around your support.


  • If you find important stems are slow to start branching out, you have the option of pruning them back to the first healthy bud. This will encourage your plant to produce side shoots that help to revive your roses!


  • Any dead, diseased or dilapidated areas of your rose are best pruned during the flowering season to coax out new flowers.


Routine Rejuvenation: Climbing Roses


  • Rid your rose of dead, diseased or brittle looking shoots.


  • Clear away older, woodier looking branches. Ideally you want to be left with six stems that are full of vitality to attach to your support.


  • Annihilate any stumps with a saw.  Rain could gather in these areas and cause your rose to rot.


  • If you would like to encourage more branches to grow, tend to the side shoots of the branches you have. By pruning back the tips by a third you are encouraging the growth of new branches.


  • A little fertiliser and Mulch in spring go a long way to help revive your roses!

Revive your Roses: Rambling Roses


Ramblers are best pruned in late summer through till winter.  Similarly to climbers there are methods for training and pruning for general purposes.


Routine Rejuvenation: Pruning to Train


  • After you have planted your rambler you want to prune the stems back roughly 40cm.


  • Remove any dead or damaged growth.


  • Fan your shoots outwards for optimum training and remember to tie all stems at a horizontal angle.
    Routine Rejuvenation: Rambling Roses


  • Once your supports are nicely established in place, you can begin shortening and thinning your plant by removing one of the oldest stems on your plant.


  • For plants that are finding space a challenge, prune out all the stems that have flowered and tie new stems in their place.


  • The last step is to shorten your side facing shoots by cutting them back roughly two thirds of their original length.


  • Cut away stumps to keep your rose rot free.


  • Remember to Mulch and fertilise!

Revive your Roses: Rose Shrubs


Shrub roses are a group of larger, more varied plants.  Characteristically they produce scented flowers and are incredibly thorny! Some species repeat flower whilst others only flower once in summer time.

Shrub roses are typically rejuvenated from late December to March.  Ideally you want to wait for warmer weather, so those in colder parts of the country may want to hold off till the later end of this time frame.

If you need to deadhead any roses, leave this task for the summer after your shrub has flowered.


Revive your Roses: Shrubs that Flower Once


  • The main focus of pruning these types of shrub is to remove any dead, diseased or damaged branches.  You also want to clear any branches that overlap.


  • Remove older, more central branches to avoid a build up.


  • If your shrubs appear a little lacking at the base removing a couple of stems back to ground level will act to remedy this.


Revive your Roses: Shrubs that Repeat Flower


  • In order to create the optimum structure for your shrub, cut back new growth in the winter months by about a third.


  • You ideally want your strongest side shoots to host no more than 3 buds.


  • A well established shrub will need you to cut older, more prevalent stems back as far as the base.  This will encourage a rejuvenating growth and flower the following year.


  • Spent blooms will require deadheading for them to continue flowering.

Revive your Roses: Floribunda and Hybrid Tea Roses


Like most roses these types benefit most from pruning in the months of December to March. Both species of plant are pruned very similarly, however there are a couple of subtle differences in their routine that need to be outlined.


  • For both always look to remove dead, diseased or damaged branches and remember to keep the centre as open as possible.


  • Hybrid tea roses produce large singular flowers, Floribundas tend to bloom in bountiful clusters.


Routine Rejuvenation: The Hybrid Tea


  • Seek out your strongest shoots.  You want to shorten these so that they have a maximum of six buds. Measuring from the base of the plant you want to cut back roughly 10-15cm or to the location where last years growth began.


  • Any shoots lacking in vitality should be shortened back to a maximum of four buds 5-10cm from the base to revive your roses.


  • Any wood on your plant that has aged beyond three years can be removed to help revive your roses with maximum effect.


Routine Rejuvenation: Floribunda


  • Your strongest shoots should be chopped down roughly to within 30cm of the soil.


  • Get rid of any lifeless looking shoots, be ruthless.


  • You may want to prune back your older stems back to soil level too.  This will encourage stronger growth targeted at the base.

Revive your Roses: Ground Cover Roses


Your main task with ground cover roses will be deadheading. Ground cover roses are prone to rapid, regular flowerings so this will be a crucial component in maintenance. This acts to encourage your plant to continue this behaviour. Prune these plants around December to March and as always seek out the dead, diseased and damaged branches!


Routine Rejuvenation: Shrub Style Ground Roses


  • Prune back any growth that has gone beyond the limit of control back to their original length.


  • Prune your strongest shoots back by roughly a third of their length.


  • Prune your side shoots back to a three bud max.


  • Prune near to ground level if your plant looks a little overcrowded. The ideal length is roughly 10cm from the base.
    Routine Rejuvenation: Rambler Style Ground Roses


  • Your side shoots need to be the main focus to revive your roses.  They can reach enormous lengths of up to 3 meters, growing multiple flowers and foliage which will need controlling. Shorten those side shoots after they flower to prevent them overgrowing.


  • If they do become too unruly, approach similarly to shrub types and cut back to the base.

Revive your Roses: Patio and Miniature Roses


Revive your roses: Miniature Rose

These types of roses follow the regular pruning timetable (Dec-Feb) leaving deadheading till the summer after your plant flowers.


Routine Rejuvenation: Patio Roses


For a more in depth pruning routine follow the steps lined out for pruning floribunda. The techniques are the same but follow guidance with a more delicate approach, taking care no to cut back newer plants too harshly.


These plants are renowned for producing an abundance of twigs a lot of which can be removed.  Seek to eliminate twigs that aren’t serving a purpose to your plant and jeopardise the shape or growth of your roses.


Routine Rejuvenation: Miniature Roses


Miniature roses as the name suggests are tiny flowers that often reach a maximum length of 25cm. This makes regular pruning a relatively simple task.  Your typical jobs list is as follows: Shorten back any weak stems or branches, remove any dead growth or excess twigs, any more mature plants can be pruned back to their base to encourage healthy regrowth.


And there you have it! A complete guide on how to revive your roses! If you need any further advice feel free to get in touch with a professional member of the team.  Their friendly approach makes even the most worrisome situations appear rosey again!

Author: Emma Watson-Thomas

Content writer for Lloyd Tree Services.

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