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Late January to mid-February is the primary time of year to prune everblooming roses in Louisiana. Examples of these include hybrid tea, grandiflora, floribunda, shrub (including those in the Knock Out series), and miniature roses. On the other hand, wait until shortly after once-blooming roses flower to prune them. Examples of once-bloomers include Lady Banks and Cherokee roses.
A first step in pruning any type of rose is to remove damaged, dead, or diseased shoots.
Hybrid tea and grandiflora roses tend to have more upright growth habits than other roses and need more severe pruning. When pruning these, remove less vigorous canes – generally ones smaller than the diameter of a pencil – at the point of origin. Leave about six to eight healthy canes that have a diameter at least as big as that of an adult finger. Cut these canes back to approximately 2 feet in height. Make cuts about 0.25 inch above an outward facing bud so that the shoot that emerges will grow away from the center of the plant.
Personal preference can largely dictate how other everblooming roses are pruned. As you decide if and how to prune them, keep in mind some general principles: Multiple shoots will likely emerge from below a cut made in the middle of a stem. If you want to open up the canopy, you can remove branches at their points of origin. If one of these other types of everblooming roses is overgrown, consider cutting it back by one-quarter to one-half of its original height.
Everblooming roses can be pruned a second time in late August or early September, with less growth being removed at this time than in January or February. Two-and-one-half to 3 feet of stems can be cut from hybrid tea and grandiflora roses. As in late winter, other everblooming roses are generally pruned less severely.
Some climbing roses are everbloomers while others are once-bloomers, so the best time for pruning these varies. When you do prune climbing roses, do so as needed to train them to the structure on which you want them to grow.
When pruning, use clean, sharp pruning shears (for smaller cuts) or loppers (for stems larger than one-half inch in diameter) to avoid wounding stems more than necessary. Bypass shears or loppers (ones with blades on both sides) are generally preferable, since anvil types may crush branches to some extent.
Let me know if you have questions.
Contact Mary Helen Ferguson.