Although there are several rose types which require different treatment, here are some golden rules to rose pruning that apply to any variety.
1. Firstly remove any dead, diseased or damaged stems, you want to make sure there are no crossing stems where possible as these will cause damage and stunt growth. By removing any stems that are not productive or causing congestion you are creating an open, healthier structure where air can flow, this will encourage new growth and better flowering.
2. Cuts should never be made more than 5mm from the bud, this can result in the stubby brown dead bits of rose stem you see if they are left too long. The cut should be made at an angle, slanted so that rain water will not run into the new bud causing infection.
3. Cut to an outward- facing bud to encourage an open shape. Only cut to an inward facing bud if you want to encourage up right growth.
4. Cuts must be clean, not jagged or torn, so make sure secateurs are clean and sharp. For larger stems use a pruning saw or loppers. Always disinfect tools between each plant, this is as easy as having a bucket of water with dilute horticultural disinfectant in it. This will reduce the risk of transplanting diseases such as black spot between plants.
5. Trace suckers back to the root (these are long vigorous stems which do not produce flowers) and pull them away.
6. When training roses against a wall or on a structure, make sure the rose is in front of the wire or obelisk you are training it around not behind. If the stems get caught behind wire they can rub or become constricted resulting in damage and a less productive stem. Soft tie is a great way of training in roses without the risk of rubbing that string or wire can cause, it is also easy to loosen and re tie.
7. Dead head throughout the flowering season to encourage a second flush and to keep plants looking their best.
8. To give roses a head start for the summer give them a granular rose feed around the base in Spring after pruning and a thick layer of mulch or well-rotted manure – being careful not to let said manure come into contact with the stems as they can result in rotting.