Many people are afraid to prune their roses but April is the perfect month to do this. Roses actually benefit from being pruned so don’t be afraid. If they are left untouched they will become wild and start to look unsightly. There are three different types of pruning methods.
Hard Pruning: this is when the plant has become overgrown or hasn’t been pruned in a number of years. You will have to take the stems down to about 5 inches from the crown (center of plant). It is best if you can maintain 3-4 buds per stem/cane. This will help to rejuvenate a neglected rose.
Moderate Pruning: this is the most recommended pruning method of pruning. This is when the stems are cut back to about 8-10 inches from the crown with the top bud facing away from the center of the plant. This will allow the rose to have a clear center to allow for air flow which will reduce disease spread. Remove any stems that are smaller than the width of a pencil, they are not viable and will take away from the sturdier stems/canes.
Light pruning: a lot of new rose gardeners will do this because they are unsure of proper pruning technique. This is not recommended and will actually cause the rose to produce thinner stems/canes and lack luster flowers.
It is also best to remove any dead stems/canes during the pruning process to also ensure a heathy plant.
Once the pruning is done it is an ideal time to fertilize for the first time of the season. Sprinkle a cup of Rose tone or Healthy Start around the base of the rose. These fertilizers are both organic. You can also sprinkle a half a cup of Epsom salts around the base, this will increase basal growth from the crown that is important to the longevity of the rose.
Make sure your pruners are sharp and clean (roses are very prone to diseases) and your gloves are made of tough leather, pruning roses is a thorny endeavor. Good Luck and when the roses bloom in June you know all your hard work was worth it!