Spent blooms on rose bushes aren’t a good look for these plants. One reason to deadhead roses is to tidy up their looks. Another reason is to encourage better blooming and, more importantly, faster repeat blooming.
It’s an easy practice that needs to be adapted to the rose variety you’re growing, but it’s straightforward enough for you to easily learn and practice it yourself.
If you find this practice intimidating, I will walk you through the different methods to deadhead roses and why you should deadhead roses in the first place. I’ll also discuss the best time to deadhead roses and when you should skip deadheading.
Should You Deadhead Roses?
At its very basics, deadheading is the practice of snipping off spent blooms at the end of their short stems, right above the foliage. It’s an easy thing you can do with deadheading snips or even with your hands.
If you ask gardeners about deadheading roses, you’ll find different opinions on the matter. For me, it seems like something I have been doing since forever, and I have only recently come to better understand why and what I am doing when I’m snipping off spent blooms.
The idea behind deadheading roses is to encourage your rose to enter into another blooming cycle. After all, you want your roses flowering as many times as possible during the flowering season.
If you leave your roses be, they will spend their energy into creating rose hips, which in turn create seeds, and then the rose plant goes into a resting period.
Allowing this cycle to carry out will postpone repeat flowering by a lot, preventing you from enjoying newer and newer blooming cycles.
Personally, I deadhead my roses just because I can’t stand the sight of spent blooms all over the place, so my motivation for deadheading is simply to tidy things up.
Those who oppose deadheading specifically oppose doing it during the fall, arguing that by not allowing the rose to rest and stimulating your rose to put out new flowers, there is a risk of damage to your rose, should a sudden freeze set in.
And if you live in an area where there is a risk of that happening, it’s best to just skip deadheading.
In its effort to push out new flowers, the rose sends sap up into its most tender branches. This sap can freeze and damage the plant if a sudden temperature drop is registered.
That said, not all roses require deadheading, some rose varieties — shrub roses, in particular — will shed spent blooms on their own and you’ll only need to do some general maintenance.
It’s important to find out the requirements of your rose variety and carry out any deadheading or pruning with those requirements in mind.
Rose Deadheading Methods
As I mentioned, not all roses need deadheading, nor should all roses be deadhead in the same way. Here are some methods to consider based on the rose variety you have:
- 5-leaf junction method
- Twist and snap method
- Cutting below flower clusters
The 5-leaf junction method involves cutting below the uppermost five-leaf junction but just above the second set of five leaflets. The next bloom will shoot from this leaf joint. This method should be applied to hybrid tea roses, which are long-stem roses.
The twist and snap method is to simply hold the spent bloom and remove it with a twist and snap action of your hand. This is preferable if you’re deadheading hybrid tea roses in early fall to maintain stem and leaf growth.
For Floribunda and Spray roses, which produce flower clusters, simply cutting anywhere along the stem below the cluster of spent blooms will amount to a correct deadheading.
Your roses will channel their energy to produce new blooms instead of producing rose hips. Beyond enjoying a repeat flowering, you’ll also have tidy looking plants.
When to Deadhead Roses?
I mentioned the implications of deadheading roses in the fall or late fall and how it can have a detrimental effect on the health of the plant should a sudden freeze occur. So careful with fall deadheading, focus on deadheading in the flowering season.
In fact, you can skip deadheading in the fall, and simply allow your roses to form rose hips and enter into a resting stage to better prepare them for winter.
Outside of fall, you can deadhead whenever you see flowers becoming spent. The sooner you deadhead, the sooner new flowers will be produced.
Therefore, throughout the entire flowering season you can deadhead roses as needed. Closing in on fall, you may want to refrain from deadheading if the cold season is particularly chilly in your area.
For deadheading, you’ll need a pair of deadheading snips or pruning shears and gloves. Make sure your snips or shears are clean and disinfected to prevent fungal or bacterial infections.
Gloves are also a precaution to prevent injuring your hands in rose thorns, which besides being painful, they’re also a potential vector for fungal and bacterial infections you want to avoid.
How Long Does it Take for Roses to Bloom After Deadheading?
Because local climate and the rose variety both influence how fast your roses will repeat blooming it’s hard to give an exact timeframe. It can take anywhere from 30-40 days or more for a recently deadheaded rose to put out blooms again.
Therefore, in a month or 6 weeks after deadheading, you can enjoy new blooms on your roses, then repeat the whole process from the beginning to see your roses flower again and again.
Deadheading roses fulfills a double function — keeps your roses’ energy focused on producing more blooms and keeps your plants looking tidy and put together.
There are different deadheading methods, depending on the rose variety and bloom production type, but the goal is all the same — to remove sections of the bloom that turn into rose hips to encourage repeat flowering.
You can deadhead your roses whenever necessary during the flowering season but be careful with deadheading in the fall to prevent damage to young stems.