Old, neglected rosebush - how to prune

Asked September 26, 2016, 1:45 PM EDT

Hello. Bought a house last spring. I thought this large rosebush was dead as a doornail, and left it because I had a ton of work to do inside the house. Surprise! The rosebush was not dead (parts of it are). It bloomed profusely; had lucious, fragrant flowers. I watered it only. No rose food..... poor thing. It stopped blooming pretty' early. The "branches" are a good 7 feet long. Other weeds are trying to strangle it. I want to care for it. I'm sure it needs pruning - - - but I'm terrified I'll do something to destroy it. How to prune?? What kind of plant food should I be using? Please help this poor, neglected plant. This house was a rental for years and years. Thank you!!!!!

Weld County Colorado trees and shrubs

5 Responses

Thank you for contacting the Weld County Master Gardeners.

Please email a few pictures of your rose bush, include full views with various angles, and some close up shots. The pictures will give us a better chance of identifying which variety you have. This will help us narrow down the type of care needed and the best pruning options for you.

Liz U
Weld County Colorado Master Gardener
525 North 15th Avenue
Exhibition Building, Island Grove Park
Greeley, CO 80631
(970) 304-6535

I thought I had a picture of the rosebush when in bloom - - sadly, I do not. So, here are two close ups, and one large shot. It's about 7 ft tall, 4 1/2 ft wide. Thank you so much for your time and interest!

Thank you again, for contacting the Weld County Master Gardeners!

This will be a bit of a project, but worth the time and effort; once completed your rose bush will be beautiful. I am enclosing links to information on the rose care, starting with the basics taking you through each season of the year, along with a "how to" video on pruning and trimming. I'm a visual learner, so I thought just in case you are as well; seeing how it’s done might be helpful to you. I noticed a bit of insect damage in one of the photos you sent, you will also find information on the insects that love to wreck havoc on roses and how to deal with them. I believe all the information I’m sending to you will answer all your questions and help you as you master your rose bush.

Plantalk Colorado: #1725 Roses Maintenance: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1725.html

Plantalk Colorado: #1763 Pruning Roses: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1763.html

Plantalk Colorado: #1726 Roses: Winter Care: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1726.html

CSU Extension: Preparing Roses for Spring: http://www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt/4dmg/Flowers/Roses/preprose.htm

CSU Extension: Summer Care of Roses: http://www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt/4dmg/Flowers/Roses/summrose.htm

CSU Extension: How To Video: Roses Pruning and Trimming: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5plEPH7pGI

Weld County Colorado Master Gardener
525 North 15th Avenue
Exhibition Building, Island Grove Park
Greeley, CO 80631
(970) 304-6535

Thank you for all the videos and info! Very helpful. Yet, I still have a question. Should I be pruning soon in order to prevent snowfall from breaking these long canes. Some are 7 feet tall. Thanks again!

You are correct. If your roses have grown excessively, the plants may be subject to wind and snow damage. When should you prune roses? Colorado State University Extension suggests: Prune all tall plants by one-third of their height in November. Otherwise, mid-April pruning is best. Around Thanksgiving, remove all leaves and debris from the ground; this will help prevent the spread of disease. Source of information: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1726.html

The photo on the upper left that you sent look like Virginia creeper. See information about this plant at




You asked for pruning information: Virginia creeper can handle lots of shearing. Any part that has been torn from its support must be pruned, because it won't reattach itself. Always cut away any broken or diseased stems. Reducing a vine's mass allows light and air to reach the plant's interior. When the vine has grown to cover the space allotted for it, you can maintain its size by annual pruning of new growth.

  • Remove any dead, damaged, diseased, or unproductive stems.
  • Remove overly tangled stems.
  • Remove errant stems, especially those growing away from the support.
  • Direct its growth.
  • Limit its growth.

Enjoy your new home!