Most rose species respond well to pruning by turning out new vegetative growth and more abundant bloom. As a general rule, significant pruning on roses to control size and shape is usually done in the spring before new growth appears. There are, however, several exceptions to this guide. The first being that roses that flower on old wood should be pruned in the fall. Roses grown in cold climates should also be pruned in the fall as part of the winterizing process, and roses grown in warm or temperate climates can be pruned in the fall as there is little to no danger of killing frost. With hundreds of rose species and many thousands of cultivars grown in a wide array of climates, pruning options are not set in stone and can be somewhat flexible to suit a combination of circumstances.
Prune old garden heirloom roses that flower on year-old or older wood in the early to late fall after all of the flowering has finished. Cut down to one-half of the older rose canes to the crown to encourage new cane development. Thin the plant evenly to keep an open and airy shape to the rose.
Cut back climbing roses that produced flowers on their year-old canes to the crown of the plant. Remove up to two-thirds of the year-old or older canes to preserve the plant's structure. Do this after the flowers have finished blooming in the early or late fall, but before the first hard frost.
Winterize cold-sensitive roses such as hybrids, tea and floribunda by pruning in the fall after the first hard frost, but before soil is frozen. Cut down the canes to between 30- and 36-inches above the crown of the plant before tying together and mounding with soil or another organic material.