If you're starting out as a gardener, pruning any roses you may inherit could be a thorny subject.. KATH SKELLON investigates.

ROSES are one of the most popular garden plants that are easy to grow and live for a long time.

The rose is a favourite among British gardeners and is best known for being grown for its flowers in the garden, such as the Rosa rubiginosa, a pink flowered shrub, that is also known for its scent.

They can be labour intensive and many of us are fearful when it comes to pruning.

But experts at the Royal Horticultural Society tell us there is nothing to fear.

The goal of pruning is to help the plant provide new growth and to keep it healthy by making it possible for air and light to filter into the middle of the bush.

Pruning is essential for the health of the rose as, if left, it can become tangled and compete for air and light.

Cutting out dead and diseased wood will encourage the regular development of healthy new canes and masses of blooms.

It is common sense and not as complex as once thought.

Getting to know your roses and what works best is the best way to gain confidence in your garden as well as a visit to a public garden to see how the experts do it.

Pruning cuts should be ideally done in the autumn before winter when you see new growth beginning to bud. Pruning too early may cause buds to start growing in mild weather and risks being killed by a late frost.

If it's too late it may weaken the plant. It is safe to prune when the frost has passed.

Anna Jones, who runs the family business Usk Garden Centre, said: “Don’t prune at this time of year, wait until the autumn.

"Don’t be afraid to bite the bullet and use good secateurs to cut them back at an angle to around two to three inches from the main joint if they are shrub roses. This will give them that natural vigour to grow.”

To prune just above a new outward facing bud use sharp secateurs or pruners and gloves.

First cut away the dead, diseased and damaged wood cleanly at the base. Look for white inside the stem. If it’s brown, cut further down. Then cut out very thin, twiggy growth and remove any stems that cross or rub together.

This needs to be repeated annually.

The Royal Horticultural Society has some general tips for pruning roses:

Cuts should be no more than 5mm (1/4inches) above a bud and should slope away from it, so that water does not collect on the bud. This applies to all cuts, whether removing dead wood, deadheading or annual pruning.

Cut to an outward-facing bud to encourage an open-centred shape. With roses of spreading habit, prune some stems to inward-facing buds to encourage more upright growth.

Cut to the appropriate height, if a dormant bud is not visible.

Cuts must be clean, so keep your secateurs sharp. For larger stems, use loppers or a pruning saw.

Prune dieback to healthy white pith.

Cut out dead and diseased stems and spindly and crossing stems.

Aim for well-spaced stems that allow free air flow.

On established roses, cut out poorly flowering old wood and saw away old stubs that have failed to produce new shoots.

With the exception of climbing roses, prune all newly planted roses hard to encourage vigorous shoots.

Trace suckers back to the roots from which they grow and pull away.