Pink Rose Topiary Tree
(Image credit: Cheryl Ramalho)

There is little doubt that roses are among the most popular ornamental plants found in the landscape. From large ramblers to more petite floribundas, there is certainly no shortage of beauty where rose bushes have been planted and have received proper care. While these graceful flowers will bloom well over any established shrub, some gardeners take a special interest in shaping and pruning roses in order to achieve the desired aesthetic. Learning more about making a rose topiary can help rose lovers to decide if this garden project is right for them. 

What is a Rose Topiary Tree?

Topiary refers to the intentional shaping of shrubs, bushes, and/or trees. While several types of bushes can be trimmed or sculpted, rose topiary trees are generally pruned so that the blooms of the rose grow in a mound at the top of the plant. This makes them ideal for placement near walkways, porches, and other highly visible landscaped areas. Real (and artificial) topiary rose bushes are also an extremely sought-after gift. 

How to Prune a Rose Topiary

Many garden centers specifically sell “tree roses.” These easy-to-manage topiary rose bushes are created by budding, which is a propagation technique that can be used to join several roses together. Tree roses leave very little work for gardeners in terms of care and maintenance. For this reason, these types of roses are often much more expensive. 

Making a rose topiary tree through training and pruning requires planning and consistency. First, you will need to select a rose. Shrub roses, or those with more compact growth habits, are ideal. Gardeners should avoid climbers, as these often grow much too quickly to be trained. Roses should be transplanted into a well-draining location that receives ample sunlight. 

To begin creating a topiary rose bush, you will need to use stakes and/or wire forms. While the staked canes will serve as an important source of structure for the topiary, the use of a form can offer a rough guideline for shape. You can then begin forming the rose topiary tree by removing growth from the central stem to create a tree-like appearance. 

Continue the process of pruning away new growth throughout the entire season. Over time, your plants will begin to bloom and maintain the desired shape with less and less effort. 

Tonya Barnett

Tonya Barnett has been gardening for 13 years. Flowers are her passion. She has trasformed her backyard into a cut flower garden, which she regularly chronicles on her YouTube channel