The best time of year to prune roses is late January through February. Pruning is required to thin out the interior of the plant and help to encourage new growth and blooms. After roses bloom, prune the faded or spent blooms to encourage new flowers. Pruning is also needed to remove dead wood, dying canes, and improve air circulation throughout the plant.
To prune correctly, use a clean, sharp pair of pruning shears or loppers and thick garden gloves to protect you from thorns. Always prune canes at an angle just above a live leaf or bud. Prune on the outside of the bud and do not leave any stubs. Begin by pruning out the small, weak, and spindly canes that are narrower in diameter than a pencil, staying as close to the plant as possible and making all cuts at a forty-five degree angle. Leave about four to eight canes on a mature plant and reduce the overall size of the plant by pruning off about one-third to one-half of the plant’s volume, leaving healthy canes. Always prune to an outward facing bud about one-quarter inch from the bud. Remove all leaves from newly pruned bushes; as light penetrates into the plant, it will produce more blooms.