Roses – knocked out

By Amanda Bennett

Agriculture and Natural Resource Educator, OSU Extension — Miami County

TROY — At the extension office, we’ve started to receive calls about dead knockout roses. Or at least the tops are dead. It seems many of our roses were hit pretty hard by this year’s winter temperatures which caused, in most cases, much of the bush to die back. But, no fear. Most have started to show new growth either from their rootstock or just above.

Gardeners should prune out the dead wood to encourage more new growth. In my own garden, that meant only leaving about six inches of green growth. It is recommended you cut dead canes back until just above a healthy leaf. Since pruning mine three weeks ago, they are filling out nicely and the buds are swelling.

Many might be hesitant to take off that much wood, but you’ll be glad you did. Otherwise, you will be left with a fairly unsightly bush. Although the new growth will eventually cover the dead wood, it is much easier to trim it out before it is covered.

You can find information all season long about Ohio growing conditions, pests, disease, and cultural problems on the Buckeye Yard and Garden online at If you have questions about roses and pruning, register for “All About Roses” on May 24 at 6 p.m. Find more details at