I tried to prune a rose bush and it stopped growing from all the branches I pruned, and instead shot one big green stem up from the root again. What is the proper technique?

  • How short did you prune it? Too close to the root and the branch will "die off". Jun 8, 2011 at 19:40
  • 2
    The "green stem up from the root" sounds like a sucker and needs would need to be removed.
    – Lisa
    Jul 19, 2011 at 5:21

1 Answer 1


We only have one rose and it was already planted when we moved in, so practical experience is limited and initial shape left something to be desired. However, I followed the advice in Neil Sperry's Complete Guide to Texas Gardening and this seems to work. It is a bit of a traditional gardening book, and a bit proscriptional ("there is only one way and it is this"), but his pruning advice for peaches also seems successful (so far!).

Anyway, he notes:

  • they only bloom on new growth
  • late winter is best, especially for the bush types. This maximizes new growth in time for spring
  • prune climbers after their first spring blooms. The exception are the always blooming types which should be pruned lightly in winter.
  • bush roses should be pruned back 50% and no more
    • remove all weak non-productive canes
    • prune strong canes by 50%, cut just above the buds that face away from the centers of the plants
    • seal cut ends with shellac or white glue (NOT black pruning sealant)

Looking at all that advice I might have half followed it. We've had more die back - perhaps I pruned too much (more than 50% some years): it sounds like you may have made the same mistake.

Also we've had more flowers when I haven't pruned - pruning every other year seems to be working well for us. I think this is because there's more new growth when I haven't pruned, because pruning will always remove new growth.

I've never sealed the ends (and can you even get shellac any more?) - disease might also account for die-back.

The following articles may also prove helpful & worth your while having a reading through:

  • 1
    sealing ends (cuts) is considered very "old school" & is no longer recommended. You most definitely can still get shellac, it's often used as a finish in fine woodworking...
    – Mike Perry
    Jul 26, 2011 at 2:40
  • Although the book isn't that old it does have traditional outlook - proscriptional and no mention of organic approaches. You also see shellac references in old modelling books, but in the modelling world it has been long replaced by various varnishes.
    – winwaed
    Jul 26, 2011 at 2:46

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