Deadheading – Repeat Blooming Roses

Ever wonder how many gardeners seem to have a continuous flow of blooms all throughout the growing season? Many of us employ a technique called “deadheading”. No, it does not include riding around in an old VW bus chasing some rock bank around. It is a method is lightly pruning your repeat blooming roses.

Rose varieties that are known to repeat:

  • Hybrid Tea
  • Floribunda
  • Grandiflora
  • Repeat blooming Climbers
  • Some David Austin English Roses
  • Shrub RosesThis technique encourages new growth and loads of new blooms. 

Tools you’ll need:
Very sharp pruners
(I have an old pair of felco pruners. I keep them rapier sharp, they make very clean cuts)

A bucket
(For hauling away your clippings. If you want to go all redneck, like me, you can use a trash can lid.)

 Step 1
Identify a rose that needs to be deadheaded

'Don Juan' Climbing Rose A Little Past It's Prime


Step 2
Identify a 5-leaflet set.

It is from this point down that you want to deadhead. Please note that you will never get a new stem any larger from the one you are cutting from, so you want to deadhead at least at the 5-leafset point to ensure a strong rebloom. I try to move down the stem far enough so I cut at a point where the stem is about the circumference of a #2 pencil.

A 5-Leafset

Step 3

Make your cut

You want to keep the inside of your rose-bush as open as possible to promote good air circulation, so when you cut do so from an outward facing leaflet. Notice the dot at the joining point of the leaflet and the stem? That is called a bud-eye. It will be the point from which a new stem will grow.

Make your cut just above the bud eye “dot”

Step 4
Clean up your mess
Keeping your rose beds free of cuttings and fallen leaves and blooms will help keep disease to a minimum. As mentioned earlier, I use a trash can lid to collect my cuttings. I filled this lid up in about 15 minutes. Once you get the hang of basic deadheading, you can deadhead about 20 rose bushes in 10 minutes or so.  

Deadhead clippings from a 10-minute sweep of my rose beds

Step 5
Watch for a new stem to appear 

A new cane emerges. This is called a "stem on stem" and will produce new blooms

 Following this technique really will inrease the number of rose you see during the growing season. Enjoy your new blooms!


57 Responses to Deadheading – Repeat Blooming Roses

  1. Teresa says:

    This is excellent information from the expert!


  2. Wonderful post and info ha ha ha deadheading here I have to drag the trash barrel around with me still looking like I haven’t done anything


  3. Susan Hemann says:

    Thanks so much Chris. I never was sure about where to dead head


  4. Wonderful tips Chris they will truly help me as I Travers the ranch garden rose bed <|;-)


  5. Paul Daniels says:

    Great article and pretty timely if most folks roses are starting to look like mine. thanks


  6. Kelly says:

    That’s a gorgeous photo of Don Juan. My roses are doing terrible this year. It’s really sad.


    • Kelly, Sorry to hear your roses are not doing well. We had a very damp spring and we had a lot of early problems. As the days warmed, they have settled down some only to be met with japaneese beetles this week! Yikes… Happy Summer


  7. Julie says:

    Thanks for the excellent detailed pictures – they helped me know where to cut.


  8. Yummygal says:

    You got it right, Redneck! Keep up the great blog.


  9. Skip Slone says:

    Terrific tips! I will definitely put these into practice!!


  10. kolonistan says:

    Thanks! I did not know this. I only cut of the petalnobs.

    /Miss T (travel blog )
    /Kolonistan )


  11. Pingback: Dagens blomma « Kolonistan – Gröna fingrar och blått nagellack

  12. So glad you discovered my blog and hope you enjoy following my Greenbenchramblings.


  13. elenawill says:

    Excellent writing and photos. As experienced rosarians, we sometimes forget that everyone does not know this.


  14. Jenny says:

    Thank you for the tips – I will have to be brave and deadhead as you suggest (rather than just pinching off the flower head).


  15. i rip them off with my bare hands. I guess i shouldn’t be doing that!


  16. Pingback: Deadheading – Repeat Blooming Roses | Natural Soil Nutrients |

  17. RobynG says:

    Love this post. I spent all day Saturday working in the garden and deadheading. Your idea of using the trash can lid to accumulate the waste is so clever.
    Thank you for liking my blog post on yellow roses today. It is much appreciated. Come back again. I post on flowers and roses quite often. Have a wonderful week.


  18. Thanks! I have always wanted to know the right way to do this! There is hope for me yet


  19. elizabethweaver says:

    This is well done. What surprises me is that I would never have considered cutting flowers so soon. I always remove them after their dead…brown, dry, really dead. You appear to cut the blooms before they’re even shriveling. Why is that? Aren’t the blooms what you want?


    • Thanks for stopping. I dead head the blooms as they begin to fade or soon there after. This keeps the shrub looking nice and also invigorates the rose bush and places it in “GROW:” mode to produce more blooms for you…. I live in a very warm climate (zone 8a, in Central Alabama) and we see blooms from early April until November but using this method.


  20. Linda White says:

    Great blog post, Chris! I’ve learned so much from you!


  21. Jenn says:

    Thank you for showing straight forward with pictures….I was getting frustrated with all the reading and their being too wordy and not getting to the point…like how far and how much and how when…that’s what I like to know…it’s frustrating to get a history lesson and not straight forward instructions….Thank you sooooo much!


  22. When short of time(most of the time) I deadhead and shape the bush with a sharp pair of shears.Trials some years back showed repeat flowering was at least as good as with secateurs.RB, West Wales, UK


  23. Pingback: Deadheading - Repeat Blooming Roses | Natural S...

  24. elenawill says:

    Reblogged this on Evergreen Rosarian and commented:
    Chis has good ideas here to encourage that fall flush of roses.


  25. lljostes says:

    You answered my questions about deadheading! Yay! Now I can go to work on my rose bush–safely!!! Thanks for visiting “Laura’s Lens”–


  26. carolynquinn says:

    Fascinating! I never knew how pruning the roses was done.


  27. Faded Ginger says:

    Thanks Chris – while I’d rather go chase an aging rock band in a VW bus, I will get out my pruners and trash can lid! I really appreciate the pictures in your description.


  28. olganm says:

    Great information! My roses thank you from the garden!


  29. Marionlee says:

    Great info. In PA, my roses are struggling. Terrible winter, wet rainy spring, & now humidity & BUGS!


    • Thanks for stopping by. Bless your heart, the Polar Vortex took its toll on our garden too. Lost 10 roses and many others debilitated. We press on on the hope of some good blooms and better weather conditions….


    • Marionlee, Thanks for stopping by. We have had similar conditions here, now the HEAT! arggg. Enjoy the blooms and your summer while its lasts.. before you know it we’ll be back fighting the polar vortex….. 🙂


  30. May email this link to my next door neighbors. It’s all I can do to not go over there and deadhead her beautiful heirloom roses. Boo hoo hoo. 😉


  31. Nice How-To Chris. I always enjoy seeing what you’re up to in that garden of Eden of yours. Warm regards, from the cooler Pacific Northwest!


  32. Dabbie says:

    Very good explanation about dead-heading! We all want as many roses as possible in the garden!


  33. Bob Blomberg says:

    There is nothing that will make you more efficient in dead-heading your roses than The Gardener’s Hollow Leg, the debris and harvesting bag that you wear. It’s a five-gallon fabric sack with an adjustable belt attached. Great capacity, incredible efficiency!


  34. Thanks for dropping by my rose related blog. Looking forward to following you. Cheers, SRR


  35. Pingback: Dare to Deadhead | Monthly Newsletter

  36. Lesley McClave says:

    Chris, your pictures are so helpful! I sometimes cut at a three leaf, is this wrong?


  37. linda hambleton says:

    Just this spring I moved to Colorado. I am seeing so many rose bushes that have long canes coming from ground level and floribunda type clusters of blooms at the tops. The blossom resembles David Austin roses. How does one deadhead these ? Could they not be repeat bloomers ? thank you


  38. Lydia says:

    Thank you for such a great explaination and the pictures. This was very helpful.


  39. Sandra Gillanders says:

    Thanks for the information on deadheading. I have known for awhile about the five leaflet point to prune but forget to look for bud. May have cut some off but I’ll be a better pruner now. I have a grandiflora that is stunning and I don’t know the name of it. Is there a source that you like to try an identify roses? Thanks


  40. Sandy says:

    Very helpful, it’s nice to have pictures attached to the directions for beginners such as myself!


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