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The rose calendar: what to do when?

To keep garden roses beautiful year upon year, pruning and fertilising are a must. The good news is, it is not difficult at all. This rose calendar tells you what to do when.


Once the worst of the frost is over, give roses a rejuvenating treatment by pruning them. Don’t be too gentle; you are more likely to prune too little than too much. Shrub roses should be cut back to five to seven centimetres above the soil.

After pruning, fertilise the roses with organic manure, such as cow manure.


Cut off dead flowers (summer pruning) so that all the energy goes to new flowers. Cut back the flower branch to just above the first leaflet with five leaves. If your rose has grown too large, you can cut the branches back to no more than half their size.

Tie up long branches of climbing roses, this is particularly important in the early years.

Fertilise your roses again in July, you could also use special rose fertiliser. Do not fertilise after August, so your rose will go into winter well hardened.


Reshape the shrub if necessary, but do not prune branches to lower than knee height, to keep your rose more resistant to frost in winter.

If you live in an area where it gets colder than -10°C in winter, apply protective material at the grafting or ocular site (the thickened nodule above which branching begins) in November. For climbing roses and shrub roses, do this by creating a mound of compost or garden soil around the stem. For stem roses, wrap the ocular site with straw, pine branches or burlap. Now your rose is ready for winter.


  • Do make sure your tools are clean and sharp.
  • Only prune botanical (wild) roses if they get too big, and shrub roses every two to three years.
  • Roses are sturdy; it’s not a problem if you don’t do everything by the book. The most important thing is to enjoy the fragrance and colour!


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