Back in the olden days, the rules behind pruning roses were kept very simple - at least they were for bush/shrubby roses. The only time you would dare approach a rose in anger was...

'...in the third week, of the third month, to the third outward facing bud...'

We stuck by this rule and everything was fine. Nowadays there are so many differing groups of roses that these once hallowed rules are starting to erode. However, this is basically what we follow today.

When to prune shrub roses?

•Prune shrub roses during mid-spring. First remove dead, diseased and dying branches, then thin out if overcrowded - remove any crossing branches and cut a few older stems to the base.
•Reduce all the healthy main stems by about a quarter.
•Unless you want to keep the hips, deadhead flowers as they fade in summer.
•Roses in this group include - R.Macmillan Nurse, R.Graham Thomas and Rosa rugosa 'Alba'.

When to prune bush roses? - this includes, hybrid tea, floribunda and patio roses

•Prune bush roses during mid-spring. First remove dead, diseased and dying branches. Prune most by about half, cutting to within 3 inches of the previous year's growth.
•Miniature roses only need pruning to maintain an attractive shape and if you want a larger floribunda, prune less severely.
•Roses in this group include - Rosa Iceberg, R.'Princess of Wales', R.Ingrid Bergman and R.Peace.

When to prune climbing roses?

•Prune climbing roses in the autumn after the flowers start to fade. First remove dead, diseased or dying branches.
•Tie in any new shoots and remove any really old branches if the plant is heavily congested - this will stimulate new growth.
•Prune side branches growing from the main framework, cutting them back to leave two to three leaf buds.
•Roses in this group include - R.Handel, R.'New Dawn' and R.filipes 'Kiftsgate'.

When to prune rambling roses?

•Prune in late summer.
•Cut back any side branches that have flowered, leaving two to three leaf buds per shoot.
•If the plant has not been pruned for some time, select a few old woody branches and cut to the base, new shoots will soon grow and can be tied into the framework.
•Roses in this group include include – R.'Albertine', R.'Félicité Perpétue' and R.'The Garland'.

When to prune ground cover roses?

•Prune ground cover roses in the spring.
•Remove dead, diseased or dying branches, and lightly prune to keep within bounds.
•Reduce congestion on old plants by removing some of the thick branches to stimulate new growth.
•Ground cover roses include - the county series, the 'Magic Carpet' range and R.Pink Bells.

Of course, if you are not sure what you have go back to the rule of thirds - unless it is looks like some sort of climber then prune back immediately after flowering. Good luck!

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