Do You Cut Off Dead Roses?


There is a great deal of science involved in rose gardening -- and a little art. The reward is a pleasant-smelling, beautiful garden, but you must learn to care for the plants properly in order to enjoy that reward. Dead rose blossoms must be dealt with. If you don't know how to handle them, they can quickly ruin what would otherwise be a beautiful garden.


  • Deadheading is the process where roses are pruned throughout the growing season so that the plant remains as healthy as possible. The basic goal of deadheading is to remove the blossom from the plant before it has a chance to go to seed. Gardeners do this because if the flower goes to seed, the bush will think that it has completed the flowering part of the natural reproduction cycle. This means the plant will move on to producing rose hips and no more blossoms will emerge. Deadheading helps keep rose bushes full of flowers for a longer season.

When to Deadhead

  • Deadhead your roses throughout the entire rose season. In a large rose garden, deadheading properly takes daily inspection of the roses. Take a walk around the roses and prune off any dead blossoms. It is also important to know when to stop deadheading. Do not cut any more blossoms once you reach six weeks before the usual date of frost in your area. This is also about six weeks before you put your plants into dormancy if you live in a region with a harsher winter.

Where to Prune

  • Follow the branch backwards from the blossom. The rose needs to be pruned back to a bud that sits above a five-leaflet leaf. Use your shears to cut from above the bud and away from it at an angle. You have the option of cutting more of the rose off if you want to encourage bigger flowers. However, this will take more of the plant's energy and it will take longer to grow back. Stronger plants may be able to handle this, while it can be hard on weaker and less robust bushes.

Additional Considerations

  • If a plant is too shrubby or growing too quickly, you may want to prune it back further during deadheading in order to encourage it to grow in an aesthetically pleasing shape. In addition, you don't need to deadhead some plants at all. Varieties that only bloom once in a season don't require deadheading. However, deadheading single bloom plants offers the advantage of removing a dead and ugly blossom.

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