Rose bushes often make beautiful additions to a garden, so it is no wonder many households have made it a plant of choice. However, rose bushes can easily become an overgrown mess if you do not prune them often. This results in an unkempt mess that turns many gardeners away from adding rose bushes to their space, and it is easy to see why. Therefore, before you decide to add rose bushes to your garden, you will need to learn how to cut back overgrown rose bushes. Not only will this help you keep your garden looking clean and beautiful but pruning your rose bushes can also help encourage your plant to grow better. Below, you will find a guide on how to cut back overgrown rose bushes the right way and why you should do so. From ensuring you do not over-prune your rose bushes to helping your rose bushes thrive and bloom better, these are the tips you will want to follow for a healthier garden of roses.

6 Red Roses
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How to Cut Back an Overgrown Rose Bush?

While cutting back overgrown rose bushes can be simple, it is important to ensure you do it right. This is because your rose bush may be exposed to a variety of germs around its environment during the pruning process, and these may cause your delicate blooms to die.

As such, you will want to follow this easy step-by-step guide to achieving beautiful rose bushes post-trimming.

What You Need

  • Disinfected scissors or secateurs
  • Gloves
  • Compost bin or pile
  • Organic sealer or wood glue
  • Fertiliser (e.g., Miracle Grow Rose & Shrub)

Step 1 – Clean Your Tools

Disinfect your scissors or secateurs. You will never know what type of germs are on your secateurs, and using dirty scissors is one of the easiest ways to transmit germs onto your rose bushes. Therefore, always be sure to clean your blades before you begin pruning down your rose bushes.

Step 2 – Remove any Dead Leaves or Branches

Remove dead leaves and branches. While it is easy to identify dead leaves, dead branches may require you to snap them to check on their colour. Brown branches often indicate that they are dead, while green branches mean otherwise.

Removing these helps give you a clearer vision of your rose bushes and how much you will have to prune after.

Step 3 – Start Pruning

Begin by snipping from the centre of your rose bush. If needed, you could always remove a small part of your rose bush’s side to get a better view of the centre. Remove any part of the rose bush where the branches are overlapped to discourage disease growth. Finish by shaping and pruning your rose bush to your desired shape. It may take some trial and error to achieve your dream result if this is your first time pruning your rose bushes down. Cutting away some of the leaves from your rose bush also helps keep it cleaner and tidier.

Try your best to cut at a 45-degree angle as it makes your pruning process easier. Be sure not to over-prune your rose bushes. You will want to leave behind some wood around your rose bush for better re-growth.

Step 4 – Seal Open Cuts

Be sure to seal your rose bush stems (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) after you have cut them. This is to avoid exposing your rose bush stems to the outer environment, leading to fungi growth and other diseases. You may use organic sealers that are available from your local nursery or wood glue to help seal your stems.

Step 5 – Compost Your Cuttings

Finally, remove all the leaves and branches that you have cut away from your rose bush and add them to your compost pile. Leaving them around your rose bush can encourage fungi growth that is detrimental to your rose bushes. Pests and insects may also be lurking about, causing problems for the remaining plants in your garden.

Top Tip: After cutting back the overgrown rose bushes, you may want to fertilise your bushes to encourage re-growth. Do note that roses are often heavy feeders, and we recommend using Miracle Grow Rose & Shrub (Amazon link – opens in a new tab) to help your rose bushes bloom again.  

Pruning an Overgrown Rose Bush
Pruning an Overgrown Rose Bush

Is it Important to Prune Rose Bushes?

Yes, it is important to prune rose bushes. Pruning offers several benefits:

  • Encourages New Growth: Regular pruning stimulates the growth of new shoots, leading to more robust and vibrant plants.
  • Improves Air Circulation: Cutting back dense growth helps increase air circulation within the bush, reducing the risk of fungal diseases like black spot and powdery mildew.
  • Shapes the Plant: Pruning allows gardeners to shape the rose bush, ensuring it fits well within its space and maintains an aesthetically pleasing form.
  • Removes Dead or Diseased Wood: Pruning helps in removing dead, diseased, or damaged wood, preventing the potential spread of diseases and pests.
  • Enhances Flower Production: Regular pruning can lead to more and larger blooms. By removing old or weak shoots, the plant can direct its energy to producing vibrant flowers.
  • Rejuvenates Older Plants: Over time, rose bushes can become woody and less productive. Pruning can rejuvenate these older plants, encouraging fresh growth and more blooms.
  • Prevents Overcrowding: By thinning out the plant, pruning prevents branches from becoming tangled and competing for resources.

How Often Do I Need to Prune My Rose Bushes?

Generally, you should cut back your rose bushes at least once a year to keep them tidy and encourage new growth. Pruning should be done as spring begins, so your rose bushes can re-grow in time and look great all year round. You should avoid pruning your rose bushes during late autumn and early winter, as this may make them vulnerable to the cold. If your rose bush is showing any signs of pests and diseases, it is important to prune your rose bushes and remove any infectious stems that may have already died. This ensures that your remaining plant will not be affected by any possible diseases, giving you a great bloom of roses instead.


To conclude, you should now better know how to cut back overgrown rose bushes. This should help give your garden a facelift from the messy stems and overgrown leaves that could be falling around your rose bushes. Your rose bushes may also be glad you are adopting a pruning schedule, as they can now grow and bloom better. When you are cutting back your overgrown rose bushes, you will want to remember to clean the area around your plants as well. By leaving behind fallen leaves or dead branches, you may attract fungi that could attack and kill your rose bushes, rendering all your efforts to care for your rose bushes a waste. Now you have cleared your roses, check out how to prune overgrown Wisteria!

Tips for Pruning Rose Bushes Infographic

Garden Doctor Tips

“Ensure that you get a good pair of gardening gloves, pruning rose bushes can be prickly work!”

“You will want to make all of your cuts clean and at an angle of 45 degrees!”

“After pruning, ensure that you fertilise your roses to help them recover!”

“Remember to compost any trimming that you remove from your rose bush no matter how dry the canes are!”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best fertiliser for roses?

The best fertiliser for roses is Miracle grow rose & Bud. This fertiliser is designed to get the best out of your roses and ensure they remain healthy and strong.

Can I cut my rose bush to the ground?

Although roses are particularly hardy and will cope with a hard prune, if you want beautiful rose bushes, it is not advisable to cut them all the way to the ground even though they may well recover.

How do you trim an overgrown rose bush?

First, prune all the deadwood. Deadwood is brown whereas green wood is alive and kicking. Decide on the shape of the plant and cut it back but not more than 50%. If the rose bush is extremely big, it may need a hard prune over 2 seasons.

How often do I prune my rose bushes to stop them from getting overgrown?

To keep your rose bushes from becoming overgrown, it’s generally recommended to prune them in late winter or early spring, around the time when new growth begins. This could be as early as January or as late as April, depending on your climate. Pruning at this time helps to stimulate new growth and can enhance the health and appearance of your roses.


Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.

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