I want the climber, Rosa New Dawn, to stay less than 8 feet tall, stay anchored to a trellis, and bloom as much as possible. In late March I cut out canes that interfere with this plan. I gently bend the larger canes, getting them as close to horizontal as possible without stressing it. Then I tie the cane to the trellis. I prune out perpendicular (to the trellis) canes that extend too far out because they may poke me in the eye or something. I also prune canes that are poking the wall behind the trellis. The result is a loosely espalier-like rose bush. Those horizontal canes will deliver vertical flowering branches. The more horizontal (really, diagonal) canes the climber has, the more flowers it tends to produce.
The hedge rose:
These things are meant to be rose-flowering fences. You could probably shear Rosa Knockout and do it no harm. I like to selectively prune my hedge rose for shape (I have only one). I prune out dead twigs and thin branches where I think the shrub is too dense. I also trim the sides of the shrub because I do not want it to encroach on neighboring perennials.
The ? rose (probably old garden rose, tea perhaps?):
This is one with wonderfully scented, double flowers appearing in June and again as the flowering stems are pruned. This bush has one strong cane, about 5/8-inch thick and a few smaller canes and twigs shooting off it. I prune the spindly twigs out and then cut the remaining canes down to roughly pencil thickness near outward facing leaf buds (bud eyes). Once 4 feet tall, its now less than 3 feet. This one blooms after each pruning of flowering stems during the growing season.
Rose pruning tips:
- I like to prune in late March, just as the temps are warming above freezing at night. Its a good time to do it because there are no leaves to block your view of the canes and the new leaf buds (bud eyes) are becoming swollen and visible.
- Prune out dead wood. If you suspect disease, clean your pruners with bleach before moving onto other rose bushes.
- Prune out last year's rose hips.
- Use a by-pass pruner. I use a Felco #2 and have had it for 15 years. The blade is removable and sharpenable. Keep it sharp for the cleanest cuts.
- Make your cut in one pass. If it takes more, your pruner's blade is too dull or the cane is too thick and woody. If its too thick, use a large by-pass pruner called a lopper.
- I cut the cane about 1/4 inch above the desired leaf bud, slicing parallel to the direction of the leaf bud (bud eye). See diagram below.
- My grandmother swears by sprinkling Epsom Salts around the roses in Spring. Its also known as Magnesium Sulfate. I don't treat my roses to these bath salts, but hey-she's been gardening for 70 years.
- Wear leather gloves if you don't like thorns pricking your hands.