In order for a rose bush to bloom each and every year, it needs pruning. This encourages new growth, increases air circulation and keeps the bush in check. With the right pruning care, the bush can produce attractive blooms for a lifetime. This may seem like a confusing, daunting task for new rose bush growers, but with basic knowledge, rose bush pruning is not difficult.
Rose bushes often have thorns, so you need protective gloves when pruning. You also need pruning shears, a pruning saw and/or large loppers to do the job correctly, depending on the size of your bush. Make sure all these implements are sharp before using them. Wipe the blades down with rubbing alcohol and a cloth as well, to prohibit the spread of disease among your plants. White glue comes in handy for sealing the pruning cuts against pests.
Pruning of a rose bush should occur all season long through dead-heading. As blooms fade, removing the flowers before seeding can increase productivity. From the bloom, find the first offshoot stem with five or seven leaves on it. Cut right above this stem to deadhead. More vigorous pruning takes place for hybrid roses in the early spring with a lighter pruning job in the late fall when the plant is semi-dormant or dormant. Hold off on pruning old, pure rose bushes until after flowering, as blooming occurs on old wood.
Make all final pruning cuts on the bush at a 45-degree angle, about 1/4 inch above a leaf axle with an eye. An eye is a swelling where leaves connect or once connected with the bush. These are where new buds will grow. Make sure you always cut to healthy, new growth with a green exterior and a white interior.
What to Prune
Dead, diseased and dying wood and any branches that cross should be the first branches to go. Also cut away any weak branches, less than a pencil-width in diameter. If your roses are hybrids, you may have suckers growing off a root. Cut those flush to the root, as they take nutrients away from the main plant. If the inside of your rose bush is dense, prune out some wood from there as well to increase air circulation.
Any leaves remaining on your rose bush in early spring or late fall are old growth. Strip them off the bush, making room for new leaves and new growth. Also pick up all debris -- including branches, leaves or blooms -- that you leave behind, bag it up and throw it away. Pull out any weeds around the bush and add them to the bag. All this debris possibly contains fungus and other pests from old growth.