All rose bushes require pruning to maintain vigorous growth, heavy blooming, and an attractive shape. However, different types of rose bushes require different pruning regimens. Reblooming rose bushes, such as hybrid teas, must be pruned twice each year, whereas rose bushes that bloom only once each year should only be pruned when the bloom is complete. Note that dead, diseased, or damaged wood should be removed from all rose bushes immediately, no matter the type of rose bush or the season.
Hybrid Teas, Floribundas, and Grandifloras are all reblooming rose bushes and need to be pruned twice each year. The most important pruning is completed in late winter or early spring, just after the flower buds have broken dormancy and begun to swell. The exact date depends on your climate. Keep an eye on your rosebuds and they will let you know when it is time to cut.
The spring pruning should be the most severe pruning of the year. In most cases, it’s best to cut the plant back to three or five vigorous canes. Always remove a cane if it crosses a second cane. Do not retain any canes thinner than a pencil. For a smaller number of larger flowers, cut the remaining canes to within 12 inches of ground level. For a larger number of smaller flowers, leave the canes at about 15 to 18 inches above the ground.
Complete the second pruning in late fall by cutting the rose bush back by about one-third. This is essential to prevent cane breakage in winter winds.
Both climbing and rambling roses bloom from year-old wood and so should only be pruned just after this year’s bloom is complete. Cut away all of the oldest stems, retaining five to seven of the strongest canes. As old and new canes may be somewhat tangled together, be careful not to cause any unwanted damage as you prune. The remaining canes can be shortened somewhat to maintain the plant in the desired area. Note that there are some varieties of continuously-blooming climbing roses, which should only be pruned in the fall.
Old-fashioned and antique roses can take a moderate pruning after their bloom is complete. They do not require the severe cuts that modern rose bushes require. Remove the oldest stems and no more than one-third of the plant altogether.