Trimming rose plants is one of the most important steps in caring for a rose. Proper trimming and pruning create a strong, healthy plant that produces abundant blooms throughout the growing season. Contrary to what many think, trimming a rose plant does not take special skills, and no harm will come to the rose if not done perfectly the first time.
Trim back a rose plant in the spring as the rose buds begin to swell and leaves appear. Trimming in the summer or fall will result in fewer blooms the following season.
Cut out old, dead canes or stems clear to the ground. Also trim back all cracked or bent canes, cutting right below the damaged area, leaving any healthy part of the cane.
Trim off all canes that are smaller than the width of a pencil, those canes growing inward and any criss-crossing canes. Trim off all faded flowers.
Trim the remaining rose canes to one-third of their growth to shape the plant. Make clean cuts at a 45-degree angle and cut about 1/4 inch above an outside bud, which encourages outward growth.
Trim throughout the summer to remove any faded flowers, which encourages more abundant blooming. Any canes that die can also be cut out to keep the plant looking good.