The how, why and when of rose pruning confuse many gardeners. Some people make it sound very complicated.
Pruning technique does depend on the type of roses you have to some extent, but there are many common principles. If you get it wrong you can put it right next year
Cut them back after flowering in late summer. Cut straggly branches back to retain some shape. Cut branches back that have flowered this year to two buds. These roses flower next year on this year’s wood, so cutting them back in spring will prevent any flowering next year. Cutting them back rejuvenates the plant and ensures more flowers.
Use by-pass pruners rather than anvil pruners. You can only get a sloping cut using by-pass secateurs (a scissor type of pruner). Make a sloping cut 2in above an outward facing bud. Slope the cut away from the bud. That’s it.
Cut to shape using the same cutting technique as above but prune them in spring, after the worst of the frosts.
Bush and Hybrid Tea Roses
Prune these in spring using the same sloping cut technique. Try to open up your rose bushes when you prune them. Cut out any stems that cross over, any dead wood and any very thin stems. Pruning in this fashion will ensure plenty of air circulation about your roses and healthier plants that will have more flowers.
Dispose of any diseased stems, but you can put healthy stems through your garden chipper to make mulch, or throw green healthy stems onto your compost heap.
Some sources say to prune in November, but this can lead to a lot more frost damage and die-back in most parts of UK and Ireland. It is better to leave it until late February when the forsythia bushes are in flower.