Easy Pruning Tips for Flower Carpet roses

One of the beauties of  Flower Carpet roses (also often referred to as Carpet roses), is that they don’t require any fancy pruning.   Unlike most roses, you don’t have to worry about where you’re cutting along the stem or about pruning them any particular way.  You can simply use pruners or even hedge clippers  – which ever is easier for you.   Just cut them back to about 1/3 of their size or more.   Cutting them back will ensure a fuller and denser growth for the upcoming season, as well as loads of blooms.

Flower Carpet cut back

Here are the Flower Carpets in our Silvan, Australia Trial Gardens after their annual June/July cut-back. Because of the large number of plants we have to deal with, we often use electric hedge shears to cut ours back and you can do the same thing.


Flower Carpet Cut Back 2

Here are our Flower Carpet roses about 4 weeks after their annual spring cut-back. As you can see, they’re putting out loads of new growth.


Flower Carpet full bloom

Here are the same Flower Carpets in late summer and full bloom.

When to cut them back . . .

The best time to cut back your Flower Carpet roses is in mid-winter to early spring, which  depending upon your location, can be anytime between now and mid-April in the Northern Hemisphere and in June – July in the Southern Hemisphere.

If you live in a warmer climate you’ll probably be dealing with plants that are still green and possibly even still in bloom.  Don’t worry though . . . pruning them will stimulate growth and  generate more blooms.  If you can easily identify any dead stems, cut those right back to the ground.

In colder climates,  if it’s been a really harsh winter and depending on how much snow cover you’ve had, you may find that most branches have died back to about 3-4  inches from the ground.  This  is normal for USDA Zones 5 and colder.   If that’s the case, you can cut them back to a few inches and they’ll still reward you with loads of blooms, starting around early summer and lasting through the first few frosts.  Once they start to green up, you’ll be to identify any totally dead branches.  Those can be cut back to ground level.

After pruning your Flower Carpets, pull away any old dead leaves and mulch to get rid of any soil fungal infestations.  Give them a good feeding of controlled-release fertilizer or something like Espoma’s Rose Food and that’s all you’ll need to do to get them started for another season of blooms!

Flower Carpet Scarlet

This Flower Carpet Scarlet was cut back to about 3 inches in early spring!


Don’t forget to check out our Caring for Flower Carpet in the Spring video for complete step-by-step instructions on spring care and pruning for your Flower Carpet roses and also a newer Flower Carpet Spring Care post with even more pruning details!




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46 Responses to Easy Pruning Tips for Flower Carpet roses

  1. Graciebelle February 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

    Thanks for these pruning tips – can’t wait ’til it’s warm enough to get out there and start to prune my Flower carpet roses.

  2. Bob Grochmal November 18, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    thanks for the info I trim mine back a little bit already before the winter frost I hope that won’t hurt them.

  3. Your Easy Garden Team November 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    No it shouldn’t and they’ll be fine.

  4. Robyn Archer July 23, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

    I have a carpet rose in a large pot.It has been there for several years now.have cut it back plenty of times.but when will i know when it is to small for the pot.please
    also leaves stay around the inside of the pot shell i remove them when i see them sitting there.

    regards Robyn

  5. Your Easy Garden Team July 24, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

    Hi Robyn,
    It really depends on how large the pot is. If you see roots coming out of the bottom holes of the pot, the plant’s probably root bound and needs to go into a larger plant. If it’s thriving and seems happy, it’s probably OK to leave it as is. Any dead leaves should always be removed to eliminate the risk of fungus that can gather on any dead leaves. Hope this helps!

  6. Rita August 3, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

    In the summer my carpet roses bloom and then the flowers go pale and die off before the next set of flowers appears. In other words, sometimes they look nice and sometimes they look like the color is bleached out and the flowers are dying. They go through a time when they are pretty and not pretty, over and over through the summer. I’m not sure if I should trim off the dead flowers (after all the petals fall off or about done) or just leave them. They don’t bloom on those branches anymore. I’d like them to be pretty all summer long but that’s not the case and I’m not sure if I can prune them during the summer when it’s hot. According to the USDA Plant Hardiness Map, I live in zone 7a. Can you give me any advice?

  7. Your Easy Garden Team August 5, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

    Hi Rita,
    The bloom cycle you describe is pretty typical but they may need to be fed more often too. Because Flower Carpets are heavy bloomers, they should be fed in the early spring and early summer with an extended-release plant food like Osmocote or other similar products. If you weren’t able to do that earlier in the season, ask your local garden center for a good water-soluable flowering plant or rose fertilizer that you can apply now. In Zone 7, the latest you should feed your roses is mid September. If your roses are in full sun, when you water, make certain you do it long enough to get deep down into the roots. As to cutting off the spent blooms, yes, you can certainly cut off the branches with the spent blooms. You can cut them off anytime into the fall but don’t do any serious cut-back pruning until the plants go dormant in the winter time. Hope this helps!

  8. Wendy gardener October 24, 2015 at 5:53 am #

    Do i cut my rosetrees while there still flowering

  9. Your Easy Garden Team October 25, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

    Sure, they’ll be fine.

  10. David Kreps January 19, 2016 at 1:01 am #

    I’ve left my roses (yellow, about six bushes total) alone for a season to “naturalize,” and they have done well. But they grew up rather than out—each has put out a very strong (and fairly tall) central cane, on which was most of last season’s action. It is time to prune (I’m on the San Francisco peninsula), and I’m guessing that I want to take the central canes back nearly to ground height (say, 6″ above ground) to encourage more spread. But I figured I should check before doing anything irrevocable.

  11. Your Easy Garden Team January 19, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    Yes, you’re exactly right! Cut back to 6 inches.

  12. Kaye May 8, 2016 at 7:23 pm #

    when is the bSt place to grow them mind are by the walk way and I think they needed moved so they don’t get in the way and I prune then and my husband things they should look like a box so I pruned them and because they are by the side walk I don’t like them there where us the best place to put them

  13. Your Easy Garden Team May 11, 2016 at 1:50 pm #

    Plant in well drained soil where they have at least a meter of space all around them to grow.

  14. Angie May 24, 2016 at 6:15 am #

    Can you tell me when I should see green growth on my flower carpet roses? I live in zone 4. I believe they bloom late, around June but I thought we’d see green growth by now. I did not prune them back at all.


  15. Your Easy Garden Team May 24, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    In your zone you should start to see growth next month.

  16. Julie June 6, 2016 at 5:15 pm #

    I didn’t realize I had to prune my carpet roses in mid April and now I have very few buds and no roses. Also they are very overgrown. I live in Long Island by. Should I prune them now ? Will I get no roses this summer. Last summer I had tons blooming all summer long .

  17. Judie Brower June 6, 2016 at 8:04 pm #

    Depending on where you live, if you pruned them in April you may have lost some of their first round of buds. If you haven’t pruned them, don’t do it now as it’s too late unless you’re in Zone 4. Just give them an extra feeding of any all around plant or rose food and you’ll see buds as the season progresses. In the cooler zones, we often don’t see blooms until early July.

  18. Nancy Packard June 11, 2016 at 11:47 am #

    I have two bushes that look like the carpet rose. They are loaded and laden with blooms.
    They are a mess. So overgrown. Their weight drags them down, very unattractive.
    Should we prune them now? Stems are very thick. New shoots are popping up from the roots.

  19. Your Easy Garden Team June 11, 2016 at 9:11 pm #

    Hi Nancy,
    If the leaves are glossy, they’re more than likely Flower Carpet roses. You can cut them back a bit and although it will reduce their blooms for a while, they will bounce back. You can certainly cut back any long branches but I wouldn’t suggest a severe cutback now. That should be done each last winter/early spring while the plants are dormant. At that point you can cut them back by at least 2/3 – as far down as 6-8 inches from the ground – with hedge sheers or even electric sheers.

  20. Mary Lou July 17, 2016 at 11:14 pm #

    I’ve had my carpet roses for 6 years. Southwest Pennsylvania can have severe winters so I have lost some to frost. They still look quite healthy except on 4 of the bushes have started to get thick extremely thorny canes and covered with tiny unhealthy rose buds that do not open. Should I just cut these back to the base?

  21. Your Easy Garden Team July 18, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

    HI Mary Lou, I would suggest cutting those 4 back to the base and then see what happens. If they continue to show signs of unhealthiness, I’d suggest digging them out. You can feel free to send photos to us at goodgardening@youreasygarden.com if you’d like – either before you cut them back, or after they start pushing out new growth. Good luck!

  22. Paul August 20, 2016 at 3:47 pm #

    my carpet roses only bloom once in the spring and thats it.they bloomed all summer in the past. i live in Chicago. please help.

  23. Your Easy Garden Team August 22, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

    HI Paul, What color/variety have you been growing?

  24. Pam October 23, 2016 at 1:00 am #

    It is fall in Michigan. I want to come back now, because they are getting out of hand and covering up my solar lights. Will I risk losing them if I do it now? It will be 62 degrees tomorrow and I want to do this, but I don’t want them to die. Am I okay?

  25. Your Easy Garden Team October 24, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

    Hi Pam, You can give them a light cut-back, enough to get them away from your solar lights, but you should wait until they’re dormant to do a full cutback. In Michigan, depending on the temps you have over the next month or so, that could be as early and Dec or Jan. So, if you’re inclined to go out in the cold temps, you can do a full but back then. Thanks for asking!

  26. Audrey Miller November 2, 2016 at 4:50 pm #

    I live in Southeast PA This past Summer we planted 6 carpet roses on a slight bank by our driveway and surrounded them with small river rock – which looks beautiful. They bloomed profusely all summer. However, since they are surrounded by rocks how can I best winterize each plant? This will be their first winter and I’m not sure how to protect them. Thanks for any suggestions.

  27. Your Easy Garden Team November 3, 2016 at 5:28 pm #

    Hi Audrey, if they’re surrounded by rock you probably don’t need to mulch them much but if there’s room to add a little extra mulch around the base of each plant it will help to protect them from potential frost heaves, especially this first year while their roots are still getting established. It’s best to not cut them back until their dormant – later this winter or in March or April (or when the weather breaks enough to be outside digging in the dirt again). Someone from Tesselaar Plants is going to send you a direct email asking for a bit more information so please watch you inbox for that. Thanks!

  28. Doug November 25, 2016 at 7:40 pm #

    I live in the Chicago area which has harsh winters with a lot of snow. Should I cut them back before the first snow and cover them with styrofoam covers? Thanks… Doug

  29. Your Easy Garden Team November 26, 2016 at 3:27 pm #

    Hi Doug, Please don’t cut them back yet. They need to be dormant before doing that, otherwise cutting them back signals them to send out new growth which will then weaken them going into the winter. If you just cover them with a few inches of mulch you should be fine. The snow cover actually helps to protect them too! For mulch, you can use shredded leaves, wood chips or shredded mulch or anything similar is fine. You can then cut them back anytime between late February and April. It’s OK to cut them back after that if they haven’t started to leaf out too much, but if you wait too long, you can end up cutting off bloom heads. Here’s a link to a video that explains that and it also has links to a few videos showing you how simple it is. http://youreasygarden.com/getting-roses-ready-for-spring/
    Happy Winter!

  30. Sheila Turman January 9, 2017 at 9:30 pm #

    This was my exact question! Thanks so much for the info.

  31. Kevin Kelleher January 29, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

    Is it the same for the standard ones.. Mine are on about a three foot leg. Will I cut their heads back to 1/3

  32. Your Easy Garden Team January 31, 2017 at 2:48 pm #

    Hi Kevin, we’re 99% certain that you do but we’ll have a definitive answer for you tomorrow after talking with our standard rose expert.

  33. Your Easy Garden Team February 1, 2017 at 12:20 am #

    Hi again Kevin, Yes, it is the same for the standards. Cut back to about 1/3 and you’ll be fine. Don’t forget to feed them as well. Thanks for your time.

  34. Tania June 29, 2017 at 6:19 am #

    Hi, in New Zealand, mid autumn. I’m still learning at the moment as a district gardener we have just been trimming the last 2 weeks all our carpet roses.. Is this the correct time of the year? They’re in full bloom and are producing new stems already. Feels wrong trimming them back now. The public also don’t agree.

  35. Your Easy Garden Team June 30, 2017 at 7:53 pm #

    Hi Tania, now (June/July) is the perfect time in the Southern Hemisphere to cut back Flower Carpet. We’ve just cut back all the Flower Carpets in our trial gardens in Silvan, Australia and those too were still flowering. With the long flowering period of Flower Carpet, you will always be cutting some flowers off in the southern hemisphere (and for our US readers, the same is true of Flower Carpets growing in the warmest areas of the country.). Your roses will thank you for cutting them back, and will reward you with plenty more blooms in the spring!

  36. Maggie July 1, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

    Hello, this article is so helpful—thank you! I just moved into a new house in Boston with a beautiful but neglected carpet rose in a sunny spot in the front yard. It’s blooming but looks overgrown, some branches are just lying on the ground, its blooms are a little pale, and there are lots of weeds around the base, etc. Seeing as it’s already July, is there anything I should do for this plant now? Or should I just cut it back in early spring next year and let it start fresh?

  37. Your Easy Garden Team July 1, 2017 at 1:28 pm #

    Hi Maggie, congratulations on your new home and garden. It sounds like your Flower Carpet could just use a little TLC. It’s fine to cut back the straggly branches, pull away the weeds and give it a good feeding (a time-released all-purpose plant food like Osmocote is fine.) Depending on the color/variety, it’s not unusual that it wouldn’t be blooming much yet in your area but with a little TLC you should see some nice blooms later in July.

  38. Maggie July 2, 2017 at 12:45 am #

    Thank you so much!

  39. Audrey Miller July 20, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

    This is the second summer for my beautiful carpet roses planted on a slight bank by driveway (in SE PA) They bloomed profusely last summer – so beautiful! I pruned back in early Spring and they bloomed well in June, I sprayed well for Japanese beetles (which we had profusely) and they survived with minimal damage. HOWEVER now there are huge clumps of brown/dead roses on the branches, and many of the branches are shooting out a couple of feet or laying on the ground. They are covered with dead blooms and some leaf damage. Is it permissable to trim back some of the long branches or just let me lay over where they fall? I know you don’t have to deadhead these roses but they certainly look sad right now with ‘no’ new bright red blooms. Help???

  40. Your Easy Garden Team July 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm #

    Hi Audrey, It’s not uncommon for some varieties of Flower Carpets groundcover roses to send out long branches. If you don’t like the look of them, it’s fine to cut them back at this time of year – no problem at all. Under most conditions Flower Carpet roses, unlike most other new varieties of shrub roses, are self-cleaning, meaning that their petals drop off as they die. However, if you’ve had a particularly wet summer, some could stay on the branches, so just cut those off – again, no problem. The leaf damage could be from earwigs (especially if you’ve had a wet summer). Hope this helps.

  41. Paula Kohlruss October 27, 2017 at 7:35 pm #

    I am new to completely new to roses. I live on Vancouver Island ! West coast of Canada. We generally have very mild winters. Iwas given a Flower Carpet Rose in memory of my sister. It has done well in a raised bed and bloomed beautifully since planting in July. It is still blooming! I understand I should not prune it until it is dormant in winter. Is this correct? It has sent up four new shoots one of which is about 14″ should I cut these shoots back and if so how far. Thank you for your help

  42. admin November 1, 2017 at 9:31 pm #

    Paula, You can go ahead and tidy up the long ones by cutting them about half way back then wait until about March for a full cut back. Thanks for reaching out!

  43. Maia January 16, 2018 at 8:00 am #

    Hi i have recently decided to redo my garden and have chosen to use carpet roses. I watched a video on growing roses and caring for them, in the video they said to spray normal roses with conqueror oil and lime sulphur but i was wonderig if i still needed to spray.

    thank you

  44. Your Easy Garden Team January 16, 2018 at 6:08 pm #

    Hello Maia, Congratulations for choosing Flower Carpet for your garden. Flower Carpets were bred for exceptional disease resistance and as such, there should be no need to spray them.

  45. Alison August 10, 2018 at 4:28 am #

    I bought a carpet rose this summer and it bloomed one good bloom and that’s been it.. as soon as I brought it home the leaves nearest the trunk started to dry out and brown. Ive had it since June and now the whole thing is looking like a dried up skeleton tree/bush.
    I have it in the container I bought it as it is on my deck. It gets mostly full sun during the day except for a bit of time in the morning. I water it almost every day with a good soaking on days when it is +28° or hotter. I trim off dead flowers when needed. Every other week or once a month I fertilize it with 20-20-20 all purpose fertilizer.
    I am in Calgary, AB. I believe zone 5. I have been considering planting it the front garden where it would get partial sun.
    At a loss on what to do. I went back to the garden centre I bought it at to as for help. Explained the above to them. They said I may be over fertilizing or watering it.. so I cut back on watering it and haven’t fertilized it since then but that has resulted in the complete dried up skeleton look..
    Sorry for the long description haha.. but any advise would be greatly appreciated!!

  46. Your Easy Garden Team August 10, 2018 at 1:49 pm #

    Hi Allison, I’m at a loss as well. It could be that you’ve over fertilized or overwatered, especially if the plant’s in a small container. Did you move it to a larger container after buying it or is it still in the container it was in when you purchased it. If so, it may be root-bound. Does the container it’s in have good drainage? That’s essentially for keeping it from getting water-logged which would also result in the dying leaves. I would suggest removing it from the container, and repotting in a slightly larger container. Our hope is that when you do that you’ll still see some good roots. You can cut it back by about 2/3 when you do that. Please keep us posted!

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