Rose bushes that are not pruned can grow into large tangled messes with small and inferior blooms. The following should allow you to grow an attractive well shaped and sized bush with large lovely blooms. Pruning at the right time can be just as important as how you prune. Bushes should not be pruned untill they begin comming out of dormancy. This can be as early as January in warm weather areas to as late as April in very cold areas. In colder areas do not prune untill all danger of frost is past.
Using the proper tools is also very important. You need a good set of pruning shears, the type that have one side for cutting and one side for supporting. The shears must be sharp, otherwise they can tear your canes instead of cutting them.
For older larger canes you will also need a good sharp fine toothed curved cutting saw that is lubricated. It is also a good idea to have some type of pruning paint or sealer to seal larger cuts. Do not forget good heavy canvas or leather gloves that can protect your hands.
Do not cut canes straight across. All cuts should be at an angle of between 40 to 65 degrees. Always make sure that the shear’s cutting blade is on the lower side of the cane in order to insure a clean cut. This way any injury to the plant will be on the upper part of the cane which will be discarded.
How much you prune depends on what you are trying to accomplish and on how well established the plant is. Moderate pruning, leaving 5 or more canes of up to 24 inches in length, will develope a large bush with nice moderate sized blooms. Light pruning, canes 3 to 4 feet in length, will produce an even larger bush but with smaller blooms on shorter stems and is good for newer or weaker plants. Heavy pruning, 3 to 4 canes from 6 to 12 inches in length will produce the largest, showiest blooms, however if the plant is too new or weak you may end up reducing the plants life span.
When pruning, remove all suckers as these grow from the root stock which is different from the grafted bush and may eventually take over and kill the bush. Cut out all week, spindly and deformed canes, and if possible cut out canes growing toward the center of the bush. If canes cross each other remove the weaker one. Proper shaping makes for a lovelier bush and allows proper air circulation which makes for a healthier plant.
Try to make all cuts down to a cane or if necessary down to about one quarter inch from a strong outside bud union or eye, the eye is where new growth stems from.
After pruning paint all major cuts with a sealer in order to aid in healing and to help keep out insects and diseases.
Note: This article is about pruning bushes, not climers, trees, ramblers or pillers.