Dead Heading Roses

We are sure that most rose growers are very familiar with the term “dead heading” it’s an important part of growing roses, but a lot of people are not sure why.

If flowers are not removed after flowering  they will start to set seed which develop into the familiar rose “hips”, this takes a lot of energy from the plant and supresses it’s ability to keep growing and produce more flowers, something that we gardeners don’t want – we want flowers, after all that’s what roses are all about. Being one of the few woody shrubs that will keep flowering through out the summer and well into late autumn. 

Why not take this one step further and take the opportunity to do some summer pruning, remove weak or overcrowded shoots and “even – up” the plant should it have developed a dominant shoot or two, to keep a nice shape to the plant.

After you have done that then remove the dead flower trusses by cutting the flowering stem off making your cut above a leaf, the height which you choose to do this isn’t critical, but probably two or three leaves below the flower truss is a good start. Some of the faster repeating varieties may well have already started to produce new shoots on the flowering stem before flowering has finished        ( Eye of the Tiger and Warm Welcome certainly do) in this case the plant is telling you were to prune – to a strong shoot , choosing the same or similar height on the other stems round the plant.

This light summer pruning will give more flowering shoots next time, as every cut results in at least one but possibly two or three buds coming into growth, each of which will go on to flower.  Varieties vary in the length of time they take to come back into flower, Floribunda’s generally 6-8 weeks, Hybrid Tea roses around 7-9 weeks with patio and miniature roses being the fastest of all.

There is a bud in every leaf axle – the point at which the leaf stalk joins the stem. 

It’s a good idea to feed after this post flowering prune, to encourage the plant to kick on again and produce more flowers.

You can do this twice each summer, after the first and second flowering, this should give a good display into September.

You may notice that bloom size lessens a bit in the second and third flowerings.

This page is concerned with repeat flowering varieties only.