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Roses (bot. Rosa) are among the declared favorite flowers of many hobby gardeners. The magnificent blossoms of the "Queen of Flowers" are particularly beautiful in tree roses. This is by no means a separate class of varieties, but only rose varieties grafted on stems. Tree roses are basically cut like any other shrub or bush rose. The following instructions show step-by-step when and how to do this.

Cut stem roses

Whether elegant tall stem roses or cute dwarf stems: rose trees can be used in many different ways in large and small gardens. However, they develop a very special effect when they are deliberately staged as solitaires - for example as the main attraction in the middle of a flower bed, to the left and right of the main entrance door to the house or in the front garden.

In order for tree roses to last for a long time with their lavish splendor of flowers and beautiful growth, you have to cut them regularly. Roses neglected in this regard tend to produce fewer and fewer flowers over the years. In addition, wild growth threatens fungal or bacterial diseases or pest infestation, for example because the crown of the trunk does not let enough light and air into the interior.


Pruning shears or pruning shears are sufficient for cutting the standard roses, only thicker branches sometimes have to be cut with pruning shears or hedge shears. Choose a model that is light and comfortable to hold and with which you can also cut through lignified shoots without too much effort. The scissors should be freshly sharpened so that the branches are cut really cleanly and not just squeezed. The latter damages the growth layer - the so-called cambrian - and makes it difficult or impossible for new shoots to develop. In addition, hygiene is the top priority in order to avoid the transmission and penetration of germs. Roses are known to be very prone to this. Disinfect the scissors before and after each use with a suitable alcoholic solution from the hardware store or pharmacy.


The most important thing when pruning roses is the right time. If you catch it, the plant drives out particularly vigorously and develops numerous buds and flowers. An old rule says that the best time for a rose gardener to use garden shears is when the forsythia is in bloom. In fact, the main pruning of most rose varieties occurs between late March and early April. However, do not prune during a frosty period, but wait for mild and dry weather. Late frosts at night in particular destroy the rose shoots, which are sensitive to the cut, and prevent new growth.

tip: Pruning is not recommended even in damp, rainy weather. The rain transmits germs that enter and infect the plant through the fresh cuts.

Bloom once or bloom multiple times?

Before you go into the garden after the winter break and get your standard roses in shape, it's better to check which variety you have. The timing and type of pruning also depend on whether the rose variety blooms repeatedly or once. The latter experience their main pruning after the summer bloom, after all they only form their blooms on the previous year's wood. Almost all historical roses belong to this group. Modern rose varieties, on the other hand, are mostly varieties that bloom more often, which, in contrast, bloom on annual wood and are therefore best pruned in spring.

Cutting stem roses: instructions

Many a rose lover's heart bleeds when the secateurs are used every year and the rose is pruned vigorously. But don't be afraid: such a cut does not cost the plant excessive strength, instead it prevents it from aging. Rose trees generally only sprout at the end of the branch, so that regular cutting of the shoots means constant renewal. In this section you will learn how to properly cut stem roses.

spring pruning

Regardless of the type of rose, caring pruning measures are essential in spring. To do this, proceed as follows:

  • remove dead and diseased branches
  • remove all thin and weak branches
  • Remove all inward growing shoots
  • Cut away the weaker branch of crossing shoots
  • cut right at the base
  • alternatively to healthy wood (recognizable by the greenish colouration)
  • never leave shoot stubs

Varieties that bloom more often are not only pruned for care, but are also severely shortened. How much you actually prune the branches of the standard rose depends on the specific rose variety. In most cases, shrub or bed roses have been grafted onto a wild rose rootstock and are therefore pruned as follows:

  • Shorten young side shoots to four eyes on shrub roses
  • Shorten young side shoots to two or three eyes in bed roses
  • do not leave too many branches on hybrid tea roses
  • always cut off above an outward-pointing bud
  • Do not shorten the shoots evenly, but shorten them according to the shape of the crown
  • Cut back more on top and bottom than on the sides
  • if necessary, ensure a uniform spherical shape

However, you do not necessarily have to cut standard roses into a spherical shape. You can also leave the crown in its natural growth form instead, which makes it look bushier.

tip: So-called cascading or mourning roses are fast-growing climbing roses that have been grafted onto a trunk. Of course, you don't cut these varieties in a spherical shape, after all, the overhanging growth of the shoots is wanted. Therefore, only cut back cascading roses slightly by shortening overly long shoots and cutting out older shoots.

summer cut

With regard to a summer pruning, the pruning measures differ between rose varieties that bloom frequently and those that bloom once.

Frequently blooming roses

Roses that bloom more often show their splendor from around June to autumn. You should cut back faded flowers so that the stems continue to produce new flowers throughout the summer. Proceed as follows:

  • Cut back the withered shoot to a full leaf
  • below the flower there is only a one- to three-part leaf
  • only the second or third below is fully developed
  • this is five to nine parts
  • Sheet should face outward
  • Cut off shoots just above this leaf

New flowers usually form after about six weeks. With cluster-flowered varieties, do not cut off each faded flower individually, but wait until the entire shoot has faded. Again, cut this off above the next fully developed leaf.

tip: With so-called pinching, you bridge the longer dormant phase of frequently flowering varieties that occurs after the first bloom in June. In this way, standard roses bloom continuously. To do this, remove about a third of all bud-bearing shoots before the first flowers bloom. These will sprout again and then bloom at a later date.

One-time blooming varieties of roses

Once blooming standard roses - which include historic rose varieties as well as cascading roses - prune after they bloom. Here the pruning is not as vigorous as with the frequently flowering varieties:

  • Removal of dead and diseased (fungal!) shoots
  • Thin out shoots that are too dense
  • every two to three years, pick out some older branches right at the base
  • Cut back shoots without flower buds

In contrast to the more frequently flowering varieties, you do not have to pay as much attention to the buds of the once-flowering varieties. These roses develop large, strong and bushy crowns over the years, often giving them a wildly romantic appearance. The long, whip-like twigs, which sometimes reach down to the ground, are also characteristic. You can shorten these without worrying or use them as lowers for your own propagation.

tip: Incidentally, these standard roses look particularly attractive when you prune them in a dome shape. The shoots are highest in the middle of the crown and finally fall to the sides.

Removing wild shoots

Whether it’s a one-time or repeat-blooming variety of rose, wild shoots appear on all standard roses and should be removed immediately. These are unwanted shoots from the wild rose rootstock that sprout either on the trunk or directly from the rootstock. They rob the standard rose of the energy it needs for flowering and shoot growth and can even cause the rootstock to gain strength and finally throw off the grafted crown. Always cut off wild shoots directly at the base or, if such a shoot grows from the rootstock, there if necessary.

Rejuvenate senile standard roses

If the standard stem was not cut at all or only rarely, fewer and fewer new shoots and therefore fewer flowers will form in the case of varieties that flower frequently. Instead, the crown appears bare and has few leaves, perhaps in contrast to the wild shoots that proliferate at the base of the trunk. With a bit of luck, you can rejuvenate such a specimen in early spring, but you have to work quite drastically:

  • Removal of all wild shoots directly at the base
  • new crown structure: leave only two to three main branches
  • shorten them significantly
  • Taking out the other old branches and twigs right at the base
  • Shorten the remaining side shoots to two or three buds

Then provide the currently pruned rose with fresh compost or manure so that it has plenty of nutrients for new growth. However, it can take two to three years for this specimen to grow luxuriantly and bloom beautifully again. Until then, care for them carefully and also cut away all wild shoots and weak branches so that the plant does not lose too much strength.

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