7+ tips for pruning and caring for garden roses

Pruning rose bushes can be intimidating, especially if you have avoided the task for a while, but it doesn't have to be. No matter what shape, size or class of roses you have, just follow a few simple tips and you’ll get the upper hand on that tangled mass of branches very quickly.
There are beneficial reasons for pruning:
• You'll encourage new growth and bloom
• By removing dead wood, you'll decrease the risk of disease
• You will provide better air circulation
• Pruning improves the shape of the plant
Remember, most experts agree that it's better to prune and make a few mistakes than to allow your roses to grow rampant.
1. Pick the right time to prune your roses
While the exact timing is determined by the type of rose plant and the hardiness zone in which you live, you will almost certainly be pruning in the spring. A good rule of thumb: Start pruning when the forsythia starts blooming.
2. Gather your tools
You’re working among thorns, so safety is an issue:
• Wide-brimmed cap
• Protective eyewear
• Denim shirt or jacket
• Gauntlet gloves (extended cuff)
• Long-handled loppers
• Hand pruners
• Pruning saw
3. Choose the right location to make your cut
After you decide on a branch, locate a bud eye facing out from the plant’s center. A bud eye, or latent bud, is the bump on a dormant branch that will sprout in spring. Make your cut about 1/4 inch above the eye.
4. Make all cuts at a 45-degree angle
Make your cuts at a 45-degree angle that slants down toward the center of the plant. Make sure the cut is a clean, not ragged.
5. Open up the center of the plant
Proper air circulation prevents moisture buildup, and moisture can make your rose plant susceptible to fungal disease or insects. The more air that reaches the center of a plant, the better chance you have for healthy roses.
6. Remove dead wood and suckers
Get rid of any dead branches by cutting them back to healthy tissue. Suckers grow from the root structures below the bud union. Remove them close to the main root branch. Also, any branches that rub together should be cut off. Rubbing opens surface wounds that become breeding grounds for disease and insects.
7. Deadhead your blossoms
Deadheading is removing finished blossoms while their petals are still clinging, and before they start to produce hips.
Deadheading stops the production of seeds and redirects energy into the stems and leaves. You’ll be promoting the growth of strong stems and eye-catching blossoms.

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