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To keep roses, or berry bushes healthy, they need to be pruned every year. This trains the bushes how to grow and makes them more productive. The best time to prune the bushes is actually winter or very early spring. All the energy reserves are in the roots at that time and most of the foliage has dropped making it easier to prune. You want to make sure you prune before they start waking up in the spring.
When pruning, first cut all the dead wood back to the base. You will know it is dead wood by cutting into. The dead wood is all brown, green is alive. If you are unsure, cut high to start then lower if needed.
Next you want to take out the branches that cross, as they can damage other canes (the bush branches) and cause disease. After those, remove any small weak growing canes. These are anything smaller than a pencil in diameter.
Finally prune the remaining canes by cutting ¼ - ½” about an outward facing bud eye. This is the small bump where the leaf would meet a stem. This will encourage the bush to grow outward instead on inward, reducing disease. Be sure to look for a bud at least halfway up the cane. If you cut to low and the bush is a hybrid, you will cut it back to the wild-type base. Make your cuts at a 45-degree angle towards the outside of the plant. This allows water to run off, also reducing disease.
Make sure you clean up all the branches and leaves from the base of the plant. If your feeling generous, add a little compost while your there to feed the bushes for the next year. Most bushes are heavy feeders and require quite a bit of nutrition to bloom properly.
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