For those in the very cold parts of the country, pruning should be left until late August.
Why do roses need to be cut back? Roses are pruned to develop or maintain a plant to its optimum appearance, desired shape and size, and to encourage strong, healthy growth and maximum number of flowers. If your roses did not flower well last summer, it is best to prune lightly.
It makes it much easier to prune when using good quality, sharp pruning equipment. Use secateurs for small cuts and long-handled loppers for out-of-reach or awkward spots. Wear leather or heavy-duty gardening gloves and closed shoes as a sensible precaution against scratches from thorns.
Tips for pruning different roses
Cut back Hybrid Tea roses (roses with large, well-shaped blooms on strong stems) to 50cm. Remove old wood and inward growing branches to allow light and air to reach all parts of the bush. Branches that cross or rub against each other should also be removed.
Anything thinner than a pencil in thickness is never going to produce strong growth, so chose two to three main stems that will remain and remove the rest.
Floribunda roses (roses with clusters of shapely, pointed blooms) planted in a border can be given a light pruning. They can be pruned more severely where they are planted close together in a bed. ‘Iceberg’ roses sprout from old wood, so if they have grown to large and untidy cut them right back to 50cm short stems and on standards the crown needs to be cut to 30cm length, however if you want them to become large shrubs you can prune them very lightly. Miniature roses can be cut back to 30cm using garden shears, and any dead stems removed.
Most climbing roses bloom on wood that is two years or older so only unproductive older wood, or spindly growth need be removed. Tie long canes horizontally to their support to encourage more flowers.
If roses are sprayed during their growing season, spraying after pruning is not necessary. Roses will not grow well in compacted soil. Break up any lumps of soil and fork in a generous amount of organic material, such as compost, milled bark or peanut shells, together with a small, closed handful of rose fertiliser and a handful of dolomitic lime for each rose.
Water thoroughly after pruning, and then once a week until the roses start sprouting. Increase watering to twice a week and more frequently as the weather warms up, and you will have a splendid show of roses this summer.