If this process is done well, Rose pruning will encourage lots of new growth including stems and especially more flowers. Another encouraging advantage is that it helps fight diseases. A rule of thumb generally is, the lower you prune, the bigger the flower and longer the stem, the higher you prune, you will get more blooms big smaller flowers and shorter stems.
When to Prune: In some reports, they say to start the process in February (after the last frost, when they start to bud or leaf out) but other experts say to begin in late January before any spring growth has occurred at all so that is what I do. Note: gentle pruning can begin in Autumn – remove heavy branches to avoid damage in wind and also avoid them rubbing off each other but just light pruning because you don’t want to stimulate growth that may be damaged by frost.
The tools: First of all please use a bypass pruner. (explanation over here!) Make a Sharp, clean and if possible disinfected secateurs to avoid any cross-contamination and also a good pair of gloves.
Begin: Start by removing all remaining leaves altogether to get a full feel for your bush. This will also remove hidden pests or diseases. Some advice I read was that you should move systematically around the plant as you prune, rather than just standing in the same spot to give yourself a better feel for the plant.
Then remove any branches that are black/grey/dark brown/decaying/dead, discoloured and brittle or any that show signs of injury/chafing that could potentially allow any disease to infect your rose plants.
Now for mature Roses – remove any growth smaller or thinner than a pencil, Prune approx half-inch above an outer facing bud eye so you are encouraging growth outwards – cut at a 45-degree angle away from bud so you are directing water away from the bud. Some recommend sealer the fresh-cut but this is probably unnecessary.
It’s also important to remove any suckers that may have appeared at the base of grafted rose plants. Slim and typically very thorny, these branches grow from the vigorous wild rootstock below ground or on many modern types of roses (the bit above ground) that are grafted. Left to their own devices these fast-growing rogue stems will eventually take over, resulting in a rose plant utterly unlike the top. Gently dig down to expose the spot where they are growing from the rootstock, then pull them cleanly away.
Patio roses, climbers and the modern David Austin shrub roses prefer lighter trims. ground-cover roses and ramblers prefer to be left alone. Young plants need pruning to shape them more than older plants that need routine maintenance pruning unless they’re really old and neglected, in which case they will need to be pruned pretty hard to bring them back.
To minimise the risk of diseased prunings or old rose leaves infecting healthy young growth on your rose plants as it emerges in spring, it’s best to collect and bag them rather than placing them on your compost heap.
Before finishing try to finish off with soil and a health-enriching mulch of well-rotted manure or organic matter, making sure that it doesn’t make direct contact with the stems. Also, come March your rose plants will also appreciate a sprinkle of slow-release organic granular fertiliser.
Generally speaking, it’s Impossible to kill a healthy rose bush through poor pruning. Instead, the worst that you’re likely to do is to temporarily disfigure it until it grows back.
Any thoughts welcome!