Fragrant and perfect rose blossoms are the goal of many growers, but once the blooms fade and shrivel, they need to be trimmed. Unlike some plants where just pulling the dead flower is enough, roses need a little care that is more specific. The process of cutting the dead roses from the bush in a way that helps the plant is called deadheading, and how you go about it depends on the rosebush as well as the time of year.
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Health and Size
Look at the health of your rosebush before you start cutting away stems and leaves, since every leaf is a source of energy for the plant. Choose healthy plants with plenty of leaves for deadheading. Leave the flowers on smaller plants to die naturally until the plant gets larger.
Look at the stem of the rosebush where the blossom attaches and then move down the stem past the three-leafed leaflets to the five-leafed leaflets. Use a sharp pair of pruning shears to cut the stem just above the leaflet. Lancaster County Extension educator Don Janssen recommends cutting a quarter inch "above an outward facing bud and leaflet with the cut made parallel to the angle of the leaflet."
Take into consideration the type of rosebush you are growing since the rugosa and other types of shrub roses produce beautiful bright red rosehips in the fall where the blossoms faded. Refrain from cutting off the blossoms and let the rosehips develop for nice fall colour.
Prune the dead roses from the rambling and tea roses up until the end of the growing season, but before the last frost, so the plant has a chance to harden off before the real cold temperatures arrive. Fresh cuts that freeze leave the bush susceptible to cold entering the plant and killing the end of the stem.
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