Primer for Pruning Rose Bushes

First, you need to know that rose bushes love pruning. Pruning rose bushes will help to promote the flow of air and light into the heart of rose bush. Proper airflow goes along way to helping a rose avoid mildew and fungus problems. Pruning rose bushes also encourages the growth of new stalks or "canes." New canes will produce the largest, strongest blooms.

When it comes to pruning rose bushes, think holidays. In warmer climates, rose bushes can be pruned any time after Thanksgiving. In colder climates, wait until after Valentine's Day to prune your rose bushes.

The Proper Tools For The Job
To avoid damaging your rose bushes, make sure all cutting tools are sharpened regularly. You'll need a pair of quality pruning shears, a long-handled lopper and heavy gloves.

Know Your Rose Bush
The type of rose bush you're pruning will determine the amount of material to cut.

Hybrid tea roses can handle the most pruning. For longer stemmed roses, a hybrid tea rose can be pruned severely, leaving only three or four of the strongest canes.

Floribunda type roses need only a moderate pruning to provide circulation and shaping. You'll want to leave some of the twiggy growth on these rose bushes.

Shrub & English roses can be treated like a floribunda if they are small to begin with. Larger shrub and English roses can be given a moderate pruning in the same manner as hybrid tea roses.

Clean Up First
To begin pruning, remove any dead or dying growth. Dead canes will be harder to cut than healthy ones. Dead and dying growth will have a gray and scaly surface texture. The wood of healthy canes will be white or green. Older or dead canes will have brown or black wood.

Take Out the Lazy Growth Next
After you've removed the unhealthy stems, look for any stems that are growing sideways or towards the ground. Remove these using a 45 degree angle cut made about ¼ inch above an outward facing bud.

Also, hybrid tea roses should have any twiggy, smaller growth removed.

Help Your Rose Bush Take Shape
At this point, look at your rose bush to plan your next cuts. You want to leave the bush between 2 and 4 feet tall and to have plenty of interior circulation. You should look to leave four or five of the healthiest canes and your rose bush should form a loose vase shape.

Once you've decided what to remove, cut the remaining canes using a 45 degree angle cut made about ¼ inch above an outward facing bud. Your cut should slant downward towards the center of your rose bush.

As a final step, remove any remaining leaves from the canes that you've left behind.

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