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Experts often advise against pruning roses in the fall, but the cold winter freezes buds and leafy greens, so it makes sense to prune roses before the first fall frost. So as soon as it gets cold and the leaves on the stem start to rot, you should cut back. Roses that don't need fall pruning are protected by large amounts of pesticides, which isn't the case in your own garden.

fall pruning

Why fall pruning?

The main purpose of pruning the roses in autumn is to prevent and curb diseases that develop over the winter. Because it is precisely the dead plant material that would remain on the rose bushes without a corresponding cut in autumn that is a breeding ground for rot, fungi and infections caused by viruses or bacteria. However, so that the thin, weak shoots do not freeze to death in the first frost, they should be removed in autumn. In contrast to the spring cut, it is not a cut to stimulate growth but a protective cut. As a rule, rot or fungi on the plant are less likely if an autumn pruning is carried out.

Therefore, the cut in autumn is particularly important:

  • preventive measure for rose diseases
  • Experts opposed to fall pruning use pesticides
  • however, these are not used in your own garden
  • does not serve to give the plant growth incentives

However, the autumn pruning of the roses can also be dispensed with if damaged leaves and rose blossoms have already been removed after flowering in summer. However, if the rose bush was cut back slightly in autumn to create a tidy garden, it should be protected from frost. The reason roses are pruned in the fall is so they don't rot due to old foliage and vulnerable shoots.


The right time for autumn pruning is before the first frost. A specific date cannot be given here, as in some areas the roses bloom well into December due to the mild weather. In other, not so warm areas, the rose season often ends at the end of October. It is therefore important to observe the climate and nature in order to determine the right time for pruning roses in the fall.

  • cut earlier in a wet and cold autumn
  • as soon as the first rotten leaves appear
  • when the first night frosts are announced
  • always cut on a frost-free and dry day

It is ideal if the rose is cut on a particularly warm day in autumn, then it can better prepare for winter. However, the last days before frost are not recommended for cutting shoots, only yellow leaves and faded rose blossoms should be removed here.


The right garden tools are also particularly important for cutting roses in autumn. Therefore, special rose scissors should be used in any case, so that there are no wounds that the frost could penetrate in winter. Therefore, the scissors used should also be prepared as follows.

  • only use sharp cutting tools
  • otherwise the interfaces will fray
  • Bacteria and fungi can penetrate more easily
  • disinfect before work
  • Bacteria and viruses could have settled on the scissors
  • with pure alcohol from the pharmacy
  • alternatively disinfectants from well-stocked garden stores
  • Tree wax to protect the interface
  • wear gloves and long clothing for your own protection

Even if the rose scissors have already been cleaned and disinfected after the last use, this should be done again before the roses are cut, as foreign bodies could have settled here again during storage in a shed.


Since the fall cut is only a care cut for the winter and not a cut to stimulate flowering, it does not have to be cut back as much as is the case with the spring cut. Above all, shoots should remain over the winter, which are then cut down in spring. Therefore, the following procedure should be followed when pruning roses in autumn.

  • leave more than five eyes
  • the five-eye cut is only to be observed in spring
  • cut as high above one eye as stem wide
  • Cut all shoots to about the same height
  • this is how the juice scale is reached
  • only leave strong stems
  • about a third of the original size
  • thin out so that the rose bush is permeable to air
  • then the moisture that forms can dry off better

If the shoots have been cut back, they should be covered with vegetable wax at the wound site so that no diseases can penetrate the interfaces.

juice scale

reach juice scale

If you are now wondering what the juice scale is, then this is quickly explained. All shoots should be pruned to exactly the same height in the fall. In the end, only robust and thick stems remain. If the juice balance is kept, then the rose gives the same power to all stems. However, if one shoot is higher than the others, then more power is required for it, the other, shorter shoots are neglected and could therefore become more susceptible to diseases again, especially in the cold season.

Therefore, a perfectly pruned rose in the fall looks like this:

  • all shoots of the same length
  • pay attention to the five eyes of everyone
  • leave only about three to four strong shoots
  • these develop directly from the base
  • remove all other shoots
  • this results in a round shape

climbing roses

Prune climbing roses in the fall

Climbing roses have very fast-growing shoots and should therefore always be pruned in autumn, unlike other rose varieties. Because it takes up a lot of space, it should be cut back after the summer. Nevertheless, only those shoots that disturb the hobby gardener should really be removed here. Because the less you cut back, the better it survives a winter. However, this does not apply in the following cases.

  • Always remove dead shoots
  • Cut off faded rose petals
  • Remove yellowed leaves

Because these only harm the climbing rose in winter if they become rotten. Then fungi, bacteria or viruses easily penetrate, the rose could be so badly damaged in winter that it dies.

To cut

Pruning climbing roses properly

If the climbing roses are to be cut in autumn, then no radical pruning should be done here. It is better to only remove the incorrectly growing branches. Nevertheless, these should not be cut all the way to the growth point, as is usual in spring, but only a part should be removed. Plant wax should also be applied as a plaster to the cutting edge of an older shoot. However, if the shoots have grown together too much in autumn, it is important that they are thinned out so that no permanent moisture forms between the shoots and thus damages the climbing rose. The following shoots of the climbing rose should also be cut in autumn.

  • Thin out so that no shoots grow tight
  • remove weak shoots
  • these are more susceptible to disease in winter


Cut for overwintering

If the rose varieties in your own garden are not hardy varieties, then of course they must be protected. Here a rose cut in autumn is absolutely recommended, so that the rose bush is not so big. Since it should be pruned heavily in spring anyway for good growth and rich flowering, it can also be pruned back in autumn to protect the non-hardy rose. Roses that are cultivated in tubs in particular are therefore cut back in autumn.

  • Shorten to about 20 to 30 cm in height
  • remove all dead shoots
  • remove all leaves and rose petals
  • then the rose can be wrapped altogether
  • Plant fleece is used for this
  • the soil is mulched
  • also wrap the bucket

Cut before moving to winter quarters

Especially if the tub with the rose is to be moved to a winter quarters in winter, then it makes sense to cut the shrub vigorously in autumn. In such a case, the cut shoots are not exposed to the cold weather and are therefore not damaged. So that the heavy pot can be moved more easily, it also makes sense to cut back vigorously. This should be done as follows.

  • also keep to the juice scale here
  • shorten all shoots to the same length
  • can also be shortened under five eyes
  • then the spring cut can be saved


Do not cut rose hips

Some types of roses form seed capsules after flowering, the rose hips. These make lovely fall ornaments, but also make good winter food for the native birds. Therefore, the stalks with the rose hips, which conjure up a wonderful winter picture, especially in the snow, should always be left standing. If the seed pods are firm and not rotten, they will not damage the rose plant in winter and can therefore remain on the bush. However, shoots that are already beginning to rot should also be removed here so that the plant is not damaged. So the procedure here should be as follows.

  • Leave shoots with rose hips
  • Cut all side shoots all around
  • limit to more than five eyes
  • this creates a limited framework

Especially when an entire hedge or bed is planted with rose hips, it is worth leaving them for the attractively designed conservatory and, above all, for the native birds.

Prune early bloomers in fall

There are varieties of roses that develop their flowering already in the first months of spring. To ensure that they are well prepared and that new shoots and buds are not accidentally removed during spring pruning, these early-flowering varieties can also be pruned back vigorously in autumn to less than five eyes. But so that the rose bush cannot be damaged in a frosty winter, it must be protected from frost. The frost protection is then removed here in early spring, but the rose may no longer be cut. Therefore, the following procedure should be followed when cutting early bloomers in the fall.

  • Cut back shoots vigorously
  • leave only outer shoots and one inner shoot
  • shorten to five eyes
  • from this, new shoots can form early on

Early flowering roses include, for example, Maigold, Claus Groth, Nevada or Golden Wings.

rose diseases

All types of roses can become ill with fungi, bacteria or mildew in summer. However, these diseases that developed in summer must not be carried over the usually wet and cold winter, because then they can spread further unhindered. In the case of an affected rose, the following steps must be taken as soon as it is detected, even in autumn.

  • cut off all affected areas
  • if shoots are affected, cut back to the base
  • brush over the interface vegetable wax
  • large interfaces are particularly vulnerable in winter

If the entire rose bush was attacked by a fungus, mildew or bacteria in summer, then it should be cut back down to the stock before winter. Since the rose is particularly susceptible in such a case in winter, it should be protected by covering it with brushwood mats or plant fleece, which is usually only necessary in winter for varieties that are not frost-hardy.

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