Be cruel to be kind to smell the roses

Cruel to be kind. Prune roses hard right now using sharp secateurs.
Cruel to be kind. Prune roses hard right now using sharp secateurs.
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We can prune the roses at any time during this month.

It needs to be done on a pleasant day, but with a bit of luck you will manage it this month.

Bear in mind the harder you prune, the more rose bushes grow and the more they grow, the more flowers you’ll get. Just make sure they are given a good feed afterwards.

Choose a nice day, get hold of a bag which will stay open or use an empty dustbin with a liner inside so all the prunings can be put into the bag.

Please don’t prune and drop, it takes ages to clear up and can get very dispiriting.

Look at one branch at a time.

Go down to the base and find the buds or shoots and reduce the length of the stem to three buds.

This means cutting off between 18in to two feet of the stem.

Once pruned the uppermost bud should be on the outside of the bush. Why? Because the top bud grows longer and faster than the others.

This means the centre of the bush will remain open and the roses will be of better quality with less disease.

It is important to use sharp secateurs and make a sloping cut just above the bud so the slightly longer part of the sloping cut will protect the shoot when it emerges.

Some areas are milder than others.

If roses in that situation already have shoots, simply cut back the branches down to the third shoot from the base of the branch. Having pruned the first branch, continue to prune the others and put all the prunings into that bag.

Standard roses are pruned in the same way.

Climbing roses can also be pruned now. Keep the thick wood on the wall or fence and cut back all the wood which flowered last summer right back to just a pair of buds. This seems a bit drastic but the more you prune, the more they grow.

Overgrown shrub roses, often with heavenly perfume, must also be pruned right now,

Cut them back really hard, right down to the lowest buds you can see and just watch them go for it.

To ensure the roses grow:

Weed the bed

Cut the grass edge

Apply a four-inch layer of manure over the top of the ground.

Bags of manure are available at your garden centre.

Don’t worry, there’s no nasty smell, it’s easy to apply and a member of staff at the garden centre will help you take it to your car.

In April, once the leaves are developing well, fork in Vitax Q4 fertiliser at a rate of 4oz per square yard gently worked into the surface of the soil.

Do you hope for the best roses ever?

Follow this advice and your hopes will bloom.


If you are thinking about cleaning the pond this should be done before the frogs and toads begin to spawn.

If they are already active, simply remove sludge from the bottom of the pond and split up water lilies and replant them in baskets.

The sludge and water lily waste can go into the compost bin.