Knowing how to prune your roses helps both you and your plant. Your rose will be rid of dead materials, branches that criss-cross and harbor disease and suckers that deplete resources. You will get a beautifully shaped, healthy rose perfectly prepared to supply you with blossoms all summer. Prune your roses in the late winter, when the plant is dormant and the last risk of freezing has past. Then, prepare to do light pruning as the season progresses.
To begin, you'll need a pair of sturdy work gloves to protect your hands from thorns. You will need a small pair of pruning shears for delicate branches, and a large pair of garden loppers for bigger canes. Make sure all of your tools are sharp. All of your cuts should be made at a 45 degree angle, using your very sharp tools. Cuts should be made at the base of the rose, as specified, or close to the next bud. Your cut should leave room for the entire bud, but shouldn't contain much space above that bud. Angle your cuts so the long edge is on the outside of the plant.
Begin by looking for canes that haven't survived the winter. These canes will be black and will have brown centers when you cut them. Remove these canes as close to the roots as you can. You may need to use your garden loppers here, as these canes can be thick and difficult to cut. Look for old cans containing many striations. Remove these as well. Look for flexible, smooth branches emerging from the roots of the plant. These so-called "suckers" deplete nutrients and do not bloom. Remove them as close to the root as you can.
At the end of your pruning, your rose will have a full and open shape, like a bowl. Stand over your rose and look down. Remove any canes that cross at the center. If two canes cross one another, remove one cane, leaving the stronger cane in place. Cut your remaining branches to 1/3 of their previous height. Remember to cut at a 45 degree angle at the next bud.
Pruning your roses on a cane-by-case basis can be time-consuming, and you may be tempted to simply cut your roses at a specified height using a motorized lopping tool. Pruning your roses this way is quicker, but often produces a leggy plant with few blossoms. Pruning in the conventional manner will produce healthier roses that can last for years.
Your pruning shouldn't end with a yearly cut. To keep your rose in tip-top shape, you will need to prune your rose periodically. Called deadheading, this process allows you to remove blossoms that have faded, and encourage your rose to keep producing new blossoms. To do this properly, grasp the bloom in one hand and look down the stem. Look for two branches that each holds five leaves. A new bloom will likely come from this location. Cut the stem of the bloom at this location, at a 45 degree angle.