Spring is the best time to prune a rose bush that blooms on new growth. If the rose blooms on both new and old wood, or just on last year's growth, limit spring pruning to removing dead, damaged or diseased wood, and give the rose bush a harder pruning and shaping once it has flowered.
Pruning can seem intimidating, but it's not as dangerous to the rose bush as allowing it to grow unchecked, thereby robbing it of air, light and nutrients.
It's important to prune a rose so that the center is open to air and light. Take note of the direction the bud eye points in. The bud will develop into a new growth shoot, and grow in the direction that it points. When pruning, cut the cane down to the nearest bud eye that does not point to the center of the rose bush.
Pruning Rose Bushes in the Spring
Begin pruning by removing the dead wood on the rosebush.
Hold the pruning shears so that the cutting blade is on the bottom of the cut.
Cut the branch at a 45-degree angle, 1 inch below the dead wood, but no more than 1/4 inch above the bud. If there is no bud, cut the whole cane at the point where it joins the stem.
Continue cutting away all old, woody, dead or thick canes.
With the dead wood cut away, repeat steps 1 through 4 to cut away diseased branches.
Pass over the rose bush a third time, removing weak or deformed branches, and canes that are growing into the center of the bush. If branches cross, cut the weaker one.
Cut small shoots growing from the rootstock at the base, taking a piece of the crown if necessary.
Spray pruned rosebush with a fungicide or fungicidal soap. This deters fungal disease.
Apply a spray of dormant oil to protect the rosebush from disease or insect eggs that may have survived the winter.
Dispose of all debris immediately to free the area of disease spore, especially blackspot spores and insect eggs.