Rose trees are hybrid roses that have been grafted on rootstock to look like a tree. Rose trees need the same care-planting, watering, feeding, protection from pests and diseases-as regular rose bushes. Like regular rose bushes, they also need to be pruned in early spring. Due to their unusual shape, rose trees need to be pruned differently from their bush counterparts.
Use clean and sharp tools when pruning a rose tree. Using a dull shear to prune a rose will tear the cane instead of cut it, which damages the cane. Pruning tools can be cleaned using an old toothbrush and water and sterilized in a solution of 1 part household bleach and 10 parts water; allow the sterilized tools to air dry. Clean and sterilize the pruning tools after each use.The Weekend Gardener has extra tips for sharpening and cleaning pruning tools.
Hold the pruning tools properly for pruning roses and rose trees. Hold the shears at a 45 degree angle; direct the angle so that it faces away from the center of the rose. This will cause new growth to grow away from the center of the rose, allowing air flow, which reduces the chance for diseases.
Remove any canes that look dead. A healthy cane will have a greenish cast to the bark and white pith on the inside. Cut away the dead part of the cane until you come to healthy white pith.
Remove any canes that are not a pencil width thick. These canes are not strong enough to support the blooms when they open. Remove woody old canes; saw them off as close to the rose tree trunk as possible. Remove any 'sucker' canes, that grow from the roots below the bud union.
Shape the healthy canes on the rose tree. Prune 1/3 of the length from the canes. Work towards a balance when pruning a rose tree; not only does it look prettier, uneven pruning will cause an uneven weight distribution on the rose.
Seal the pruned canes by smearing household glue on the cuts. This acts as a bandage on the cane and will keep insects and disease from entering through the cut.
Clean up all rose cuttings, fallen leaves and petals from around the base of the rose tree. Throw these in the trash. Do not add them to the compost as they will encourage pests and diseases.