How to Deadhead Your Roses to Keep Them Blooming

Learn how to deadhead roses the right way with these quick tips.

Published February 6, 2023
Pink Roses

When your bouquet of roses starts to droop and brown, your first instinct is to throw them away. Yet, the wilting and browning for planted roses isn't a sign of impending doom. Rather, it's a symptom that your flowers seriously need some grooming. Promote new blooms and stimulate growth by deadheading roses the right way. After all, learning how to deadhead roses the proper way is easy enough for even kids and teens to tackle. Can you say weekend chore?

What Does Deadheading Roses Mean?

When you deadhead a rose, you're cutting off the dying/wilting flower heads. You'll notice that the full, colorful blooms start to droop and dry, while their petals will darken around the edges. When this starts to happen, it means that the blooms are ready to be removed.

Why Do You Deadhead Roses?

When there's a lot of dead material at the ends of your rose bushes/shrubs/plants, the plants themselves stop allocating their energy towards stem and flower growth and shift it towards seed making. If these plants were in the wild, accumulating a lot of dead blooms indicates that it's time to reproduce and go dormant for the coming cold season.

To trick your plants into continuing to spend their energy on growth, you need to cut away the dead material. Your roses will focus on healing that removed stem and bringing more blooms with it. The more you deadhead, the more blooms you'll stimulate. Think of it like the hydra - cut off one head, and three will appear.

When's the Best Time to Deadhead Roses

Since it can take plants about 6-8 weeks to regrow any lost blooms, you want to deadhead your rose plants/bushes about 7-8 weeks into the early spring season. This will allow them to blossom at the peak time, and will give you months of abundant roses.

You should also complete one final deadheading towards the end of summer to prepare your perennials for the coming winter months.

How to Deadhead Roses the Right Way

hands wearing gardening gloves while using gardening scissors

Depending on what roses you've planted, there are slightly different techniques to approach deadheading. However, they're all quick and easy to follow. Best part of it all - you only need a pair of gardening shears (and maybe some gloves to keep those prickly thorns at bay).

Basic Way to Deadhead a Rose Plant

Follow these simple steps for deadheading most roses.

  1. Find the dead or dying roses. These will be very dry and have withered petals and leaves.
  2. On each dead rose you've isolated, find the section with five healthy leaves the closest to the bloom. If you cut here, the plant will start growing back.
  3. Take your garden clippers and cut the stem about a quarter inch above this five-leaf point.
  4. Discard the dead blooms and continue caring for your roses as usual.

The Thorn Approach

Some gardeners take an even simpler approach to deadheading their roses.

  1. Once you've identified the dying or dead rose heads, locate the topmost thorn.
  2. Walk two more thorns down the stem.
  3. Using your garden shears, cut the stem and dead blooms at this point.
Helpful Hack

Always make sure to cut your rose stems at an angle because it increases the surface area and the amount of water the plant can absorb.

Deadheading Rose Bushes Is a Little Different

Rose bushes often come with stems that produce multiple flowers. For example, Knock Out Roses are a super popular type of rose bush that produces clusters of rose blooms. Because the blooms share a stem towards the bottom, you want to cut away the individual heads as the petals decay and fall off before touching the stem itself.

Wait until all the blooms on a single stem have faded before cutting the stem with the same basic rose deadheading approach.

You Can Deadhead in Your Bedhead

Deadheading roses is a vital maintenance practice that you can use throughout the year to encourage your plants to continue growing big and beautiful blooms. All it takes is a pair of garden shears and a little know-how to deadhead roses the right way.

How to Deadhead Your Roses to Keep Them Blooming