Knockout roses though usually maintenance free need some pruning love once in a while to keep their shape. Actually there are two schools of thought when it comes to pruning knockout roses. One, a maintenance prune to clear out any dead wood and to keep the shape and two, rejuvenating i.e heavy pruning in Spring all the way to 6-8 inches off the ground.
We planted a hedge of knockout roses on the side of our house 2 summers ago. Our house sits on a slight slope and the rose hedge acts as a buffer between the stark contrast of the stoop and the lawn. So I prefer them to be tall and bushy and resort to method #1. Here’s the low down on the when and how.
There are 2 schools of thought on this; Spring & Fall. My take is;
For colder climates where winters are harsh your best indicator is to prune when Forsythia is in bloom (which is right now for us).
Where the winters are mild you could get away with pruning in Spring or Fall. You can even give it a few maintenance trims in the Summer!
In general I’d wait for the bushes to be established ie. they are a few years old to prune them in Fall. In this case my marker is once the leaves on the trees starts to fall I take out my pruning shears.
- Pruning Shears or Loppers. I use the latter ‘coz I prefer to stay as far away from the thorns as possible.
- Leather Gloves
With your Pruning shears or Loppers depending upon how big you want to keep the plant prune right above the bud.
Repeat to maintain the shape. Some folks like to prune away about a third of the plant. As I mentioned I just nipped away the unruly stems.
For this one you definitely need to use Loppers. Prune the branches all the way to 6-8 inches off the ground. Knockout roses are vigorous growers so they will bounce right back up nice and bushy. These are my neighbor’s bushes. They pruned them like this last year too and the bushes grew back nicely.
Here’s to hoping that we would have fabulous blooms like these without the Japanese Beatles troubles this year!
How do you prune your knockouts?