Bush Roses

Bush roses are usually divided into two distinct types: hybrid teas, which produce single, large flowers, and floribundas, with clusters of flowers. These are some of the most popular of all roses, with a very wide range of colours available. Since they are relatively heavily pruned each year, they tend to take up little space. There is a certain upright formality about them, so they are mainly used in rose beds rather than in less formal, mixed beds with herbaceous plants.

Pruning a floribunda rose 1: Floribundas can get tall, so it may be necessary to cut them back by about half in the autumn in order to prevent wind-damage.

Picture of Patio Planting

Pruning a floribunda rose 2: In the spring remove any dead, diseased or damaged wood, cutting right back to a bud or shoot in sound wood.

Garden Planning

Pruning a floribunda rose 3: Remove any shoots or branches that are crossing others, especially if they rub against them.

Garden Planning

Pruning a floribunda rose 4: Cut back the remaining shoots to a basic framework, about 25–30cm (10–12in) above the ground. 

Garden Planning

Pruning a floribunda rose 5: Weak shoots such as this should be cut right back to a stronger main stem or to the main framework.

Garden Planning

Pruning a Floribunda Rose 1: As with most pruning, the first task is to remove any dead, diseased or damaged wood, cutting back to a bud in sound wood.  

Garden Planning

Pruning a Floribunda Rose 2: Next remove some of the older wood, especially if, as here, it has die-back, caused by bad pruning in the past in which the cut was made too high above a bud. 

Garden Planning

Pruning a Floribunda Rose 3: Cut back the remaining growth to an outward-facing bud, 15–25cm (6–10in) above the ground, or just above the previous year’s pruning.  

Garden Planning

Pruning a Floribunda Rose 4: Any suckers, such as the one in front of this rose, should be removed from their point of origin below ground. 

Here, more attention is required to even out
the heights of the stems to produce a more
rounded bush as well as removing weaker
stems and cutting back stems to a bud.


Bush roses are usually grown as bushes and normally require no support at all, even when they are first planted.

Initial training

Plants are bought either as container or as bare-root plants. If you cannot plant bare-root roses straight away, heel them into a spare bit of ground, so that their roots do not dry out. Plant container roses at the same depth as they were in the pot. The best time for planting is between late autumn and early spring. Prune all the shoots back to about 10–15cm (4–6in) above the soil level to a strong, outward-facing bud. If there are any weak, damaged or badly placed (i.e. crossing or rubbing) shoots, either cut these low down to a good bud or remove them completely if necessary. If a container rose is planted at any time other than winter, leave the initial pruning until its first winter.

Established pruning

Bush roses establish very quickly and a year after planting the pruning regime will become established. Deadhead the roses once the flowers begin to fade. In windy areas, in late autumn after flowering and before the winter winds set in, reduce all the shoots by about half to prevent wind-rock and thrashing stems. The main pruning can start at any point between mid-winter and early spring, while the bushes are still dormant.

If you cut back too early, growth is stimulated and you may have to prune again after a mild winter. Start by cutting out any dead, damaged or diseased wood, as well as any thin, weak growth, then deal with what is left. In the case of hybrid teas, cut back all stems to a strong outward-facing bud about 15–25cm (6–10in) above the ground. Shorten any laterals or side shoots to two or three buds. As the plants begin to age, cut out one or two of the older stems completely at the base to encourage new growth and  rejuvenate the plant. With floribundas, the pruning is very similar but need not be so drastic. After removing dead, damaged or diseased wood as well as any weak growth, shorten each stem to about 25–30cm (10–12in) from the ground. Again, any laterals can be reduced to two or three buds.

As with most roses, any suckers that appear from below the graft should be removed at their point of origin, which in many cases is below ground. If left, they will produce different growth and flowers. 

Pruning a newly planted bush rose
Plant new bush roses between autumn and early spring. All the stems will be too long when the rose arrives from the nursery. As soon as you have planted the rose, cut all stems back to an outward-facing bud, about 10–15cm (4–6in) above the ground.

Pruning an established hybrid tea
Hybrid teas are a very popular type of rose for the garden, and generally these are given the severest of pruning. In spring, after removing any dead or diseased wood, cut back all the remaining shoots to within 15–25cm (6–10in) of the ground, at an outward-facing bud. 

Pruning an established floribunda
The floribundas are pruned in a similar manner to the hybrid teas, but are not treated quite so harshly. After removing all the dead, damaged or diseased wood, cut back all the remaining shoots to about 25–30cm (10–12in) above the ground and any laterals to two or three buds. 

Some floribunda roses

  • Amber Queen
  • ‘Anne Harkness’
  • ‘Arthur Bell’
  • Beautiful Britain
  • Betty Harkness
  • ‘Bonfire Night’
  • Centenary
  • ‘City of Leeds’
  • ‘English Miss’
  • Fellowship
  • ‘Glenfiddich’
  • Iceberg
  • Irish Eyes
  • ‘Korresia’
  • L’Aimant
  • Lilli Marlene
  • ‘Masquerade’
  • Princess of Wales
  • Remembrance
  • Sexy Rexy
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • Trumpeter

Some hybrid tea roses

  • ‘Admiral Rodney’
  • Alec’s Red
  • ‘Apricot Silk’
  • ‘Blessings’
  • Blue Moon
  • Buxom Beauty
  • Cherry Brandy
  • Christopher
  • Columbus
  • Congratulations
  • Dawn Chorus
  • ‘Deep Secret’
  • ‘Doris Tysterman’
  • Elina
  • ‘Etoile de Hollande’
  • Fragrant Cloud
  • ‘Grandpa Dickson’
  • ‘Harry Wheatcroft’
  • ‘Lovers Meeting’
  • ‘National Trust’
  • Peace
  • Pot o’ Gold
  • ‘Prima Ballerina’
  • Remember Me
  • Royal William
  • Silver Anniversary
  • Tequila Sunrise
  • Whisky Mac

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