Can you prune roses in February? Absolutely, if you follow these expert tips

Ever wondered what happens if you prune roses now? We have all the answers...

Roses in a polytunnel
(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes Photography)

The sun is finally shining, which means our minds are well and truly on our gardens – and on our roses, in particular. But can you prune roses in February? 

Of course, anyone with a garden full of roses will already know how to prune roses for big, abundant flowers, but the when is every bit as important. 

Timing, you see, is everything when it comes to keeping these blooming beauties looking their very best, which is why you need to figure out when it's too late to prune roses. Or, in February's case, when it's too early.

Can you prune roses in February?

Now, there are two schools of thought when it comes to sussing out if you can prune roses in February. 

There are those who, like Monty Don, believe that these 'tough shrubs that can take a mauling by anything from secateurs to a flail cutter and [still] bounce back' at this time of year. 

'I prune [my shrub roses] in winter and early spring by removing exceptionally long growth, damaged or crossing  branches and then leave alone,' he writes on his popular gardening blog.

Garden with a climbing rose plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Other gardening experts, however, believe that any signs of new growth – which, depending on where you're based in the UK, could mean that February is not the right time to prune roses (especially if it's frosty).

'Roses can be pruned all winter, but there is a moderate risk of damage to any new shoots if spring frosts are nippy,' says Guy Barter, chief horticulturalist for the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).  

'In regions prone to sharp spring frosts, roses are typically shortened in October to limit the potential for wind damage, and the final pruning completed in March,' he continues. 

'It helps that the growth buds have swollen by late winter which aids deciding where to cut.'

A bush of roses

(Image credit: Getty Images/Mariia Romanyk)

So, can you prune roses in February?

Similarly to planting daffodils in February, the answer is basically, yes: roses should go on your list of what to prune in the garden in February, so long as a) growth is just resuming after winter, and b) all risk of frost has passed. This usually works out to be around mid-February in the south, but in March for northern and colder areas. 

What you will need

Now that you know you can prune roses in February (depending on the weather and where you're based in the UK, of course), you'll want to source the following tools:

Close up of a pink rose growing in a garden

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Technique-wise, Monty Don says that you shouldn't 'worry too much about outward sloping cuts, but do always cut just above a bud'. 


Which roses will benefit most from being pruned in February?

'Late winter or early spring pruning suits most roses very well,' says Guy, noting that this includes hybrid tea roses, floribunda and hybrid perpetual roses.

However, he adds that you should 'prune once-flowering climbing roses and rambling roses soon after flowering finishes in the summer'.

You'll want to wait to deadhead roses (this refers solely to removing dead flowers) until after they've flowered, in the summer. 

How much should we cut roses back by in February?

As you'll likely have guessed, you will need to tailor your pruning efforts in February to each individual rose type.

'Species roses and groundcover might need no pruning at all,' says Guy, 'and shrub roses need little pruning: just remove some of the oldest shoots. Bush roses, however, flower best if quite harshly pruned, so you should aim to remove a third to a half of the growth'.

He adds that 'nervous gardeners might be reassured by research which has shown that cutting roses back with a powered hedgecutter is every bit as effective as traditional pruning with secateurs'.

What 3 things should we remember when pruning roses in February? 

When pruning roses in February, Guy says that you need to keep the three Ds in mind, as these are the first bits to prune out.

'Those Ds refer to anything diseased, damaged, or dead,' he says, noting that congested and crossing wood will also need priority attention.

'Lay planks down and work from them  if the soil remains wet and sticky, as this will help you to avoid soil damage – wet soil is easily compressed squeezing out the air leading to drowned roots and unhealthy roses,' he advises.

'And don't forget that a mulch of well-rotted organic matter will help roses to regrow after pruning and flower well. Mulches also help prevent weeds.'

Of course, while you absolutely can prune roses in February, it's important to remember to wait until the next season if they're already filled to bursting with new buds. 

Anything to keep our roses looking their tip-top best, quite frankly!

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.