How to Get Paraffin Wax off Bare Root Roses

The cut tips of bare-root rose canes are often slicked with a coat of paraffin wax by the grower after harvest to prevent moisture loss and dessication. The wax acts as a sealant to reduce the stress on the roses during transit and up until the time they can be planted and established into ground soil. The wax is typically a thin coat and is designed to break down quickly and flake away with exposure to the elements. It does not need to be removed before planting. However, if the wax seems thick, unsightly or just bothers you, most or all of it can carefully be removed with one or more of a few simple methods.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden gloves

  • Secateurs

Step 1

Don a pair of garden gloves that have the little rubber grips on the fingertips. Gently grasp the tip of the rose cane between your gloved fingers, pressing and rubbing lightly to crack the wax seal and loosen the coating. It may fall away in pieces or you can easily pull the broken pieces free to expose the cane tip. Be careful not to bend the cane.

Step 2

Cut off the wax covered tip of the rose cane with a clean and sharp pair of secateurs. Cut just the very tip of the cane, an 1/8 of an inch or so. Often a shallow cut will break the wax seal and the remaining wax will fall off or easily pull away.

Step 3

Prune down the top of the wax-coated cane entirely by placing a cut below the waxed portion on naked cane. Cut on the bias, and at least 1/4-inch above a leaf axil or bud. Cut all of the wax coated canes down to roughly the same height to preserve the branch structure of the rose plant.


Refrain from trying to scrape the wax off of the cane as this can bruise or even cut into the cambium causing injury and creating an entry point for disease.

References & Resources