Rosa rugosa is an extremely adaptive plant that is tolerant of heat, cold, drought and salt. Its leaves are withered and leathery, and its stems are covered with sharp, spikelike thorns. Heavy gloves, thick jeans, pruners, loppers and a sturdy jacket are a necessity when pruning Rosa rugosa. Pruning takes between 1 to 2 hours depending on the size of the plant and the work needed.
Clean and disinfect the tools
To prevent the spread of bacteria and disease, clean your tools with an antibacterial household cleanser before and after use.
Do seasonal pruning
Prune Rosa rugosa after the last frost but before its blooming season begins when new growth is visible. Start by removing dead, withered, discolored or diseased branches. Cut the canes at a 45-degree angle away from the plant. Remove the suckers, which resemble fleshy outgrowths, from the base of the plant to stop unnecessary growth. Deadhead roses by cutting them to 1/4 inch of the next leaf cluster.
Do renewal pruning
Renewal pruning is done at the same time as seasonal but only every 2 to 3 years. Remove one-third of the oldest stems, working with clusters of four to five canes at a time from the base of the plant using loppers. Cut back each remaining cane between 3 and 10 inches.