How to deadhead roses - experts explain the trick to keep your roses blooming

Keep your roses in ever-blooming condition with our guide on how to deadhead them

Pink rose bush
(Image credit: Future PLC/Val Corbett)

Deadheading roses is an easy garden maintenance task that will keep rose bushes and shrubs in optimum health and blooming for longer. 

Hardy, colourful and sweet smelling, the classic rose has been a firm favourite in gardens for centuries. Famous for their beautiful flower heads spiralling with petals, rose shrubs, bushes and climbers look idyllic growing in amongst garden borders, potted on patios or arched over arbours.

However, like all good things, the exquisite rose blooms do not last forever and eventually wilt and die. But, as with cutting back lavender, removing rose heads as they fade will encourage brand-new, next-generation flowers to offer a constant source of colour, scent and enjoyment all season long. 

Burgon & Ball Ergo Deadheader Shear | £12 at Amazon

Burgon & Ball Ergo Deadheader Shear | £12 at Amazon

This wearable deadheading pruner is endorsed by the RHS. Reviews say they are comfortable to use and feel and make deadheading so much easier.

Pink rose bush

(Image credit: Getty)

'If you are growing your rose for colour and scent in the garden rather than for cut flowers, make sure you stay on top of deadheading (removing any flowers that have gone over) to encourage repeat flowering,' explains Rosebie Morton, founder of The Real Flower Company

How to deadhead roses

It’s no secret amongst established gardeners that deadheading flowers is a garden idea that will ensure plants continue to flourish for the maximum amount of time. 

'Your flowers will really thank you for it,' says professional gardener, Sarah Raven 'Their focus and energy redirects to producing beautiful new blooms. It really is the simplest exercise but one that can garner such results! You’ll likely return to a host of thriving new flowers upon your return.'

What you will need

  • Gardening gloves as rose stems have thorns
  • A sharp and clean pair of secateurs
  • A bucket for the deadheads

How to deadhead cluster roses

Depending on the type of rose species there are various stages to deadhead the plant. Truss roses which grow clusters of blooms can be deadheaded in stages to conserve the plant's energies.

Stage one is to remove a single faded flower from a blooming cluster. Wearing gloves, carefully snip away the individual decaying flower to prolong the life of the remaining truss of flowers. 

If a whole cluster of roses (from the single stem) has died it's time to move on to stage two. Remove the whole group, but not in the same method as above. Instead, cut further down the stem.

Pink rose bush

(Image credit: Getty)

Rosebie Morton explains why you should never simply snip or pull the head off a whole faded rose head. 'The trouble with pulling heads off [roses] is that it then has to dive right back and takes time for hormones to settle down. It will then re-shoot from that base and you’ll end up with a spindly stem.'

How to deadhead roses at the stem

Instead of deadheading roses from directly below where it joins the stem, look further down the cane to the first set of flourishing or shooting leaves and cut diagonally just above them. 

'If the head has no other buds then take the stalk back to the ‘true leaf’ which means a decent leaf,' says Rosebie Morton.

Tim Marshall, head gardener at Raby Castle agrees: 'Cut the faded flower head just above the first set of healthy leaves. Using sharp and clean secateurs, make a diagonal cut at a 45-degree angle, around ¼ inch above a leaf junction or bud.'

Pink rose bush

(Image credit: Getty)

How to deadhead roses with buds

If however, you have spawning buds close to a dead rosehead you’ll want to save it to bloom, so cut as follows:

To get a healthy new flower with a strong stem, inspect the rose that’s gone over for any new buds within close proximity on the same stem. 'While you still have buds coming, take the head off as close as you can to the stem to leave the current buds to bloom,' explains Rosebie Morton.

Remove all spent flowers using the same method. 'Remember to dispose of the cuttings and to clean and sanitise your tools after each use to prevent the spread of diseases,' continues, Tim Marshall.

Roses in garden

(Image credit: Future PLC)


When’s the best time to deadhead roses?

Typically, the ideal time to deadhead roses is when they have finished their blooming phase and the petals start to show signs of wilting or falling off.

Gardening expert and director of Easy Garden Irrigation, Sean Lade adds, 'The timing is critical as it allows the plant to direct its energy efficiently towards producing fresh blooms rather than being expended on seeding.' 

When should you not deadhead a rose?

Some roses produce hips once flowered. 'These are fleshy fruits behind the flower, which in autumn can turn bright orange and red. There aren’t many [rose] species that you do grow for hips, but the Rugosa variety, for instance, are best not deadheaded because then it will enjoy the hips as well as the flowers,' explains Alan Titchmarsh in a Gardener's World video.

By deadheading roses regularly the plants should flourish into healthy plants. So, why not learn how to take rose cuttings and multiply your garden blooms for free?


Rachel Homer has been in the interiors publishing industry for over 15 years. Starting as a Style Assistant on Inspirations Magazine, she has since worked for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines and websites. After starting a family, she moved from being a content editor at to be a digital freelancer and hasn’t looked back.