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Pruning your rose bushes is a way to provide air and sunlight to the center of the plant, resulting in healthier growth with an abundance of roses. Pruning also is a way to redirect growth in your rose bushes. When you remove dead or diseased wood from the plant, the rose turns its attention to producing new growth, and eventually new roses. Pruning is not difficult, but there are a few key techniques to learn about where, when and how to make the cut.
Remove any dead, dying or diseased wood from the rose bush. With your pruning shears, cut the dead canes where they connect at the base. Your cuts should be at 45-degree angles so the new growth will face up and out. The best time to prune most types of rose bushes is in the spring, after the threat of freezing has passed. Ramblers should be pruned after they finish blooming for the season, usually in early fall. You should also remove dead wood from any rose bush in the fall to protect the bush from potential wind damage.
Look at the dead wood where you cut it to check for color. If the center is white, the cut is sufficient. If the center is brown, cut further down the cane to ensure that you are removing all of the dead wood. Healthy wood is greenish-white inside the cane.
Cut away any thin growth or twigs. Look for canes that overlap or touch each other. Remove one of them. Canes that touch can spread disease in your rose bush.
Cut back each cane on your rose bush to half their height. Look for a bud that's facing outward and make your cut 1/4-inch above the bud at a 45-degree angle. This is a moderate pruning method and one that's most often recommended for Hybrid Teas and Floribundas. Light pruning consists of only cutting back the canes to a third of their length, but your rose bush may become spindly. Hard pruning is when the canes are cut down to about 4 inches tall; this method generally is used to try to rejuvenate neglected and weak roses.
Remove and dispose of all of the pruning debris. Leaving dead, diseased and healthy cuttings can attract pests as well as impact the health of your rose bush.