The first thing you should know about pruning drift roses is that it is not necessary. You do not have to prune your drift roses; however, they respond extremely well to it, and pruning them will encourage heavier flowering and result in a much better-shaped bush.

What Are Drift Roses?

Drift roses are repeat-bloomers and are very tough regardless of the season. They are low-maintenance roses that are also disease resistant.

Drift shrub roses are perfect for smaller spaces because their growth habit is low and spread out in the space they’re given to grow. They are perfect for placing along pathways or walkways or to brighten up borders, among other things – again, low maintenance.

How to Prune Drift Roses

You can prune drift roses hard as soon as you see new leaves emerging – usually in late winter or early spring. Once you see the leaves, use an extra-sharp pair of pruning scissors and cut the roses back to four to six inches above the ground.

Regular pruning is a good idea because it helps the plant. It is a good habit, and you can enjoy a nice, healthy plant regardless of the time of year.

Deadheading spent blooms is also a good idea because it encourages more blooms and buds to grow during the bloom cycle.

When you do this, always perform a clean cut at the base of the flower’s cluster stem. In addition, make sure you stop pruning your drift roses about two months before the average first frost date in the area you live in.

Other Tips to Make Your Drift Roses Look Amazing

If you really want your drift roses to look their best, here are a few extra tips to follow:

  • Always fertilize your drift roses because they bloom heavily and grow fast. Feeding them right after the late-winter pruning works best, then fertilize them every six weeks during the growing season. Use an organic plant food or a rose food, and stop fertilizing two months before the average first-frost date where you live.
  • When your drift roses are in containers, always pay attention to the product label and do as it says so you can get the best results. Usually, container drift roses need a slow release fertilizer, preferably one that is slow-release or water-soluble and specifically made for plants that live in containers.
  • Test the pH of the soil for your drift roses, and for ideal soil pH, make sure it stays from 6.0 to 7.0 on the pH scale, which is considered mildly acidic to neutral. There are numerous probes that will instantly test the pH level of your roses’ soil, making it a lot easier to keep the level at the right number.

So, in essence, you’ll want to prune your drift roses by following these steps:

  1. Cut them back once a year to roughly six to eight inches high. In late wintertime or early springtime, when you see new shoots growing from the canes on your rose bushes, this is a good time to start pruning.
  2. Always use hedge shears or hand pruners for the best results, and always wear your gloves the entire time you’re working. All you need are some basic tools that you likely already have.
  3. When deciding where to cut, consider the size you’ll want your rose bush to finish. Normally, drift roses triple in size by the end of the season if you’ve cut them back properly.
  4. When pruning to the desired height, make sure you remove any damaged, smaller, or dead canes so you can enjoy better growth and air circulation in between the branches.
  5. Always discard the debris when you’re finished pruning so they don’t sit on top of the roses and cause the flowers to decay or stop growing.

Besides Pruning, What Else?

In addition to pruning, drift roses also have to be well-watered at all times. These roses grow best in moist soil that offers good drainage. Never let the soil get soggy or wet! In other words, you don’t usually have to water your drift roses every day.

If you’ve just planted the roses, you can water the newly planted roses with some type of root stimulator, which reduces transplant shock and promotes more vigorous plants.

For the most part, allowing the soil to dry out somewhat between waterings works better on drift roses. If you plant these roses during the winter dormant season, you’ll need much less water for them to grow and thrive.

If this is the case, be careful never to overwater your plants or you can suffer with root rot and similar conditions.

Photo credit: RDR