Prune roses when they break dormancy in late winter or early spring. Take out dead wood and weak growth and then shape the plant based on its garden use. Roses that will be used as hedges or screens can be pruned to a tall, upright form while groundcover roses can be pruned to control height. Just don’t try to keep a naturally tall-growing rose short or it will sulk, so choosing roses for their size at maturity is important. Throughout the growing season, you can trim garden roses lightly to keep them in shape.
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Although the marketers of garden roses sometimes suggest they can get by on as little as one annual application of fertilizer, I find that they benefit from a regular feeding schedule. At pruning time in late winter, I put down a layer from the compost pile around the roses. When the first set of tiny leaves appears, I apply an organic fertilizer. For an extra boost during the flowering season, I use a seaweed-based foliar spray every 2 to 4 weeks; it’s great for plant nutrition and helps to boost the immune system. Discontinue feeding roses a month before the first-frost date.
As garden roses mature, periodically remove the oldest canes, those that are woody, barked over, and nonproductive, by cutting them to ground level at late-winter pruning time. This selective thinning will spur fresh growth.