How and when to prune depends on the type of rose:
Bush roses | Climbing roses | Rambling roses | Removing suckers | Dead-heading
Pruning tall varieties growing in a windy situation in November reduces the possibility of root damage by wind rocking and leaves rose beds tidier over the winter. In a mild area, full pruning can be carried out. In colder districts, prune off the top half of tall varieties and complete pruning later.
First, remove all dead, damaged and diseased shoots. Then remove any weak, spindly shoots. Typically, between three and ten shoots will be left. Remove one in three of these from among the oldest, dark coloured shoots.
Shorten the remainder to between 15 – 30 centimetres. Large-flowered bushes should have their shoots pruned closer to 15 centimetres than 30 centimetres. Cluster-flowered bushes should be left closer to 30 centimetres than 15 centimetres. Prune cleanly just above an outward pointing bud.
The ‘head’ of a standard rose is pruned in the same way.
Note the difference between a climber and a rambler. Climbers are generally not pruned at ground level. Only the top framework is thinned out and the shoots that carried flowers pruned back to 10 centimetres. Weaker climbing varieties should not be pruned quite so much. Climbers are pruned in February or March.
Depending on variety, all ramblers throw some new shoots at, or close to, ground level each year. Whatever number of new shoots is produced, remove this number of old shoots, choosing the oldest to go. Over-long shoots can be shortened as necessary, or doubled back towards the centre of the plant.
For ramblers that produce very few new shoots at ground level, but produce some new growth further up on the older shoots, prune the older shoots back to one of these young shoots. Then, just shorten back the remaining shoots that have flowered. Ramblers are pruned in summer or autumn, whenever flowering finishes.
Tie in both climbers and ramblers after pruning. Completely overgrown climbers or ramblers can be cut back hard and re-trained. No pruning, other than light trimming, is needed for miniature roses.
Bush roses, standards and some shrubs and climbers are grafted. Suckers from the root-stock can appear and they will take over if not removed. Dig down below soil level and locate the source of the sucker. Cut it off. Replace the soil and firm it well to discourage further suckering. Suckers are easily recognised because they have more leaflets per leaf, carry more thorns, and grow vigorously.
Removing the faded flower heads from bush roses, standard roses and continous flowering climbers is worthwhile because it increases and prolongs flowering. Reach down past the faded flower bud and cut the stem at the first strong bud, contained in the axil of the leaf. This bud is usually located about 20-30 centimetres below the faded flower.