September means it’s time to turn off the water sprinklers, plant cool season fall vegetables, and prune your roses for a showy fall bloom.  Mark it on your calendar.  Prune roses around Valentine’s Day and Labor Day each year.  Most roses need some type of pruning to eliminate dead wood, keep them shapely, and to promote flowering new growth.

Hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses are the traditional modern roses Tyler is most known for.  Begin by removing all dead and diseased canes.  A rose should be cut back according to the normal growth habit of the particular cultivar and the vigor of each plant. The average pruning height for these cutflower type roses in the fall is around three feet, but taller growing cultivars may be left at four feet.  Others suggest pruning off 1/3 of the growth in the fall and ½ in the spring.  Still yet, some say prune to waist high in the fall and knee high in the spring.  Cut stems at a 45-degree angle above a strong outer bud.  Then remove all branches smaller than a pencil and any that are crossing or rubbing each other the wrong way.

There are a number of other types of roses to consider.

Standard or tree roses: A tree rose is a hybrid tea, grandiflora, floribunda, or even polyantha budded at the top of a tall trunk of a more vigorous understock. Prune tree roses as for hybrid teas, cutting the branches to within 12 inches of the upper bud union to encourage compact, rounded, and vigorous new growth.

Miniature roses: Miniature roses grow 1-2 feet tall with tiny blooms and foliage. They do not need special pruning; just cut out dead growth and lightly shear them with the hedge clippers to shape them up.

Polyantha roses:  These cluster flowered, small-leafed roses should be sheared lightly and shaped as with trimming a shrub.

Shrub roses:   Bushy roses like Knockouts and Drifts should also be sheared lightly with hedge trimmers and shaped to a natural form.

Ramblers: Old-fashioned rambler roses (like ‘Peggy Martin’ and Lady Banks) have clusters of small flowers in the spring. They produce pliable canes 10-15 feet long in one season. Ramblers bloom best on old growth, so other than removing any dead canes they should not be pruned at all in the fall.

Large-flowering climbers: Climbing roses have larger flowers mostly produced on wood several years old. The canes of climbing roses are larger and sturdier than those of rambler roses and less vigorous, essentially tall, lanky shrubs.  Cut out dead and diseased canes then shorten the side shoots, 3-6 inches.

Antique roses:  Ever-blooming old roses like teas, Chinas, and polyanthas should be given a light shearing with the hedge clippers.  Then remove any dead branches.  That’s it.  The goal is to promote busy shrubs with many flowers, not large individual cut flowers.  Old garden roses that only bloom only in the spring should have been pruned immediately after spring bloom and not at all in the fall.

Written by Greg Grant Greg Grant is an award-winning horticulturist, conservationist, photographer, and writer from Arcadia, Texas. Each month he writes an article for The Arbor Gate Blog where he is given free range to write about any topic that interests him. During the week, he is the Smith County horticulturist in Tyler for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and on the weekends, he and his wife tend Greg’s grandparents’ old farmhouse, his Rebel Eloy Emanis Pine Savanna and Bird Sanctuary, a flock of laying hens, one Jack Russell, and three cats.