Rose bushes are a spectacular addition to any garden, but cutting a rose bush is intimidating to many novice gardeners. Keep in mind that cutting back a rose bush is actually good for the plant. It encourages new bloom and growth, removes dead wood, improves air circulation and enhances its look.
Plan your cutting. Most rose bushes should be trimmed in the spring after the final hard freeze. Cutting a rose bush in cold weather can stunt new growth. If you live in a warmer region, typically Zones 7 to 10, schedule your cutting for after the rose bush has lost most of its leaves.
Prepare your cutting tools. Make sure your shears and loppers are sharp and clean. Using dull cutting tools can easily damage your rose bush. Disinfect your tools in rubbing alcohol before cutting and between rose bushes. This prevents the transfer of diseases and infections. It is also a good idea to wear heavy-duty gardening gloves to prevent the thorns from scratching you.
Know the correct cutting techniques. For a rose bush to thrive, you need to cut the stems at a 45-degree angle with the slope of the angle heading toward the center of the bush. Cuts should be made about ¼ inch above a bud that is facing toward the outside of the plant. Begin cutting at the base of the rose bush and work your way up.
Cut away any dead, dying or diseased wood. This prevents disease or manifestation from spreading to other parts of your rose bush. Dead wood usually looks dry or shriveled and can appear black or dark brown in color.
Remove five or six live branches, selectively. You want to open up the center of the rose bush to provide better air circulation and allow sunlight to reach the inside of the plant. This helps reduce the risk of diseases and infections. Cut away any weak branches that are thinner than a pencil. Get rid of any rose branches that cross over another branch or through the center of the rose bush.
Remove sucker growth from the base of the rose bush. Get rid of suckers, or new growth, by cutting them down to ground level.
Cut away overgrown branches. Trim any branches that extend beyond the basic shape of the rose bush. Now cut off any foliage on the remaining branches.
Seal significant cuts. Seal any cuts wider than the diameter of a pencil with carpenter's glue or white glue. This will make the rose bush heal faster and keep away boring insects.
Throw all of the rose bush cuttings into the trash. Remove all of the cuttings from around rose bushes to minimize the chance of disease or insect infestation.