Double-knock out rose bushes too late to prune?

Denise DuffyMarch 28, 2009

Greetings all!

I would like some advice on pruning my five double knock out bushes I purchased last summer. They did wonderful all last summer, no problems! I decided last month that I wouldn't prune them this time around, but now that it is just about April 1st, they are already 4 feet, real leafy, but lanky looking. I think I would rather prune down to a foot high and I think they would be fuller and produce more roses this coming summer. My question, is it too late now to prune, since we got the snow yesterday and the ground is cold, maybe they would be ok to prune? Some advice would be much appreciated!



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I'm certainly not a rose expert, but I'd go ahead and prune them now for fear they'll really get too long and lanky by midsummer. Next year, if you need to prune them, just force yourself to do it in late winter before they leaf out too much. With Knock-outs some people don't prune the first year, or they skip pruning every other year, but I haven't grown them myself.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 2:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Denise Duffy

Thanks for your reply! I appreciate your advice! I think I will prune and I was wondering what the reason would be to not prune the first year or do skip every other year. Do you know?

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 2:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Its my understanding that you can prune any rose before they leaf out. I don't think I'd prune any rose down that far if they're leafed out = but I err on the side of caution and I'm not a rose expert. I have read that its safe to prune any rose, especially ramblers, year around to control them... but they're only talking about tiny stragglers that are in the way. Nothing bigger than a pencil. I have learned a good 'tip' from a grape grower... if you need to prune something out of season, spray the cut with ivory dish detergent to prevent any fungi or disease from entering the cut. I don't know a thing about knock out roses = but there is a rose forum, maybe they can help.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 4:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Landscape roses like Knockout Roses are very vigorous growers, so you prune them to give yourself some control over them. Otherwise they can get amazingly big and start looking kind of wild. The "rules" for pruning them are not necessarily the same as they are for some other roses like hybrid teas because they are landscape shrub roses. Some people don't prune them their first year because they want to get a good idea of how the natural shape of the Knockout rose is going to progress. Some folks prune them back only every other year because they want them to be huge monsters but know they have to maintain some sort of order and control. You just have to figure out what works for you and the space you have as well as the vigor of the particular Knockout you have. Some Knockout types get larger than others and some grow more vigrously.

When you prune in late winter to early spring, you are doing so in order to control the shape and size of the bush, and to keep new growth coming out near the bottom of the plant. Remember that I mentioned my mom quit pruning her roses and the base of the plants became very ugly. Well, that "ugly" is what you want to avoid. If you don't prune, then the new growth comes out higher and higher every year and the bottom of the plant looks awful.

I haven't grown Knockouts, but they probably should be pruned back to the 5, 6 or 7 largest canes each spring--removing what you need to in order to maintain the shape you like and that fits in with your landscape. You always remove the oldest and woodiest canes, because as they get older they just get woodier and woodier and don't look that great. Because Knockout Roses can be very vigorous growers if planted in ideal conditions, they sometimes need "corrective" pruning in the middle of the growing season when they send out an occasional limb that just shoots out from nothing to 2 or 3 feet almost overnight and is growing in the "wrong" direction, like directly into the wall of the house or a pathway or whatever. I don't think you have to deadhead Knockout blooms though, as they are self-cleaning.

A friend of mine describes the more vigorous Knockouts as taking on the appearance of a drunken spider if left too long without corrective pruning, with long legs sticking out this way and that way, and she's not the only person I've heard describe them that way. I have a couple of David Austin English Roses that get that same "drunken spider" look in the middle of the summer, especially after a big rainy spell. They just send out canes out of nowhere that go this way and that way. I prune them out as needed and don't seal the cuts. They heal over just fine on their own.

I googled and found you info on "Pruning Knockout Roses" and linked it below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Pruning Knockout Roses

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 4:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I really don't have an answer, but copied this from the Tulsa Master Gardeners website:

Prune roses just before growth starts, and begin a regular disease spray program as the foliage appears. See OSU Pub. 6403 - Rose Culture in Oklahoma; and 7607 - Diseases of Roses. Continue weekly treatment during the rainy season.

I have to dwelve more in to the OKC Master Gardeners I live here now.


Here is a link that might be useful: Tulsa Master Gardeners Website

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 9:44AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Where's everybody at
I guess everybody is out planting taters and onions. Got...
Seedy Saturday Seed Swap
Seedy Saturday Seed Swap. February 28, 2015 When I...
New subjects and thread drift
I see some threads get off topic quite often. I have...
seed swap tulsa
are they having the seed swap in Tulsa today
Pinching growing tips on tomato seedlings?
Every spring usually after I've transplanted my tomatoes,...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™