It’s time to prune! All roses except Lady Banks need to be pruned in the winter. Also, all deciduous fruit trees except for the members of the prunus (plum) family need to be pruned.

Why prune? Here are some of the biggest reasons:

1) To promote new growth.

2) To thin and let light into the plant (lack of light will cause branches to die).

3) To remove dead and diseased wood.

4) To improve the structure and appearance of a plant.

Roses need a lot of pruning because they grow quickly and will become congested and will flower less if not pruned properly. Large flowering roses (hybrid teas) need to be pruned the hardest. Old canes should be cut to the ground and several young canes should be selected and pruned to between 10 and 30 inches depending on the health and age of the plant. Cluster flowering roses (floribundas) should be pruned less. Cut new growth back to 4 inches and select some older canes to prune back to the ground. There are no hard and fast rules for rose pruning. Roses are tough and will usually recover from whatever cuts you make, so be brave! Pay attention to where cuts were made in prior years and how the plant responded. Let the rose tell you how to prune it.

Fruit trees are a more challenging pruning subject. The best thing to do is read a book about fruit tree pruning before you begin. Also consider summer pruning your fruit trees. Refer to the UC extension service for recommendations.