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I'm currently uncovering my rose bed and need to know how to prune the plants so they do well this season. How do I go about this?

In general, roses should be pruned in March or early April before new growth begins. The first step is to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged wood. Cut the stems one inch below darkened areas, making sure you are cutting back to green wood. Make cuts at a 45 degree angle about one-quarter inch above an outward facing bud.

Then remove branches that grow toward the center of the plant. This opens the plant for better air circulation and sunlight. Next, locate crossing branches and remove the weakest one. Remove sucker growth, which comes from below the bud union. This growth is from the root stock and is a different rose variety; if not removed, sucker growth can crowd out the desired variety.

Finally, prune to shape the plant. Hybrid teas, grandifloras, and floribundas can be pruned 12 to 24 inches in height, leaving up to 9 to 12 half inch diameter, healthy canes. Old, shrub, and species roses should be pruned sparingly, removing no more than a third of the growth. Miniature roses need only minimal pruning. Note that heirloom roses and some climbers produce blooms on the previous year's wood; they are pruned after bloom.

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