Proper pruning of your rose bush improves its overall appearance and health. By removing dead or wayward branches, also known as canes, you improve the shape, air flow and sunlight distribution of the entire rose bush. Jane Martin, of Ohio State University's Horticulture and Crop Science extension, recommends leaving the heavy pruning to the spring, preferably March or early April. Pruning your rose bushes in the autumn should be limited to removing only the canes that may be interfering with the health and proper growth of the bushes.
Locate dead canes on the rose bush. Dead wood will appear darker in color than live canes.
Cut dead canes at a 45-degree angle with pruning shears. The cut should be approximately ¼ inch above a bud.
Inspect the pith (inner flesh) of the pruned cane. The color of the pith should be white, which indicates the cane is live and healthy. If the pith is tan in color, prune farther back until the pith is the proper color.
Remove any canes that are growing inward towards the center of the rose bush. You will also want to locate any canes that are crossing each other and remove the weaker of the two, in order to avoid an open would forming when the two rub against each other.
Prune canes that have outgrown their space, only if necessary, to avoid crowding surrounding plants.
Deadhead any expired rose blooms. Follow this up by pruning the cane back to the first strong bud eye to encourage more blooms.