Winter pruning is an essential part of keeping roses thriving and healthy. However, care should be taken to ensure that the plants have completely entered dormancy before they are pruned. Pruning them too early can result in vegetative growth that is killed by winter temperatures.
Dead and diseased wood should always be removed from rose bushes during the process of pruning. These are frequently found toward the bottom of the plant. Stems that cross each or touch should also be removed during this time. Roses need good air circulation to stay healthy, so gardeners need to be certain to thin out the middle of the plant.
The oldest rose canes can be cut back to the ground completely, and the rest of the branches should be shortened by one-third. It's important to prune roses right above an outward-facing bud. The branches should have an open and upward appearance after they have been pruned.