IF you want your roses to produce fantastic blooms later in the season, you may need to prune some of them now.

They are the quintessential English plant, with unrivalled fragrance, beauty and variety of colours, shapes and sizes.

Little wonder, then, that many gardeners are baffled as to when to actually prune their roses to ensure a flurry of gorgeous flowers in the summer and beyond.

The best time to prune autumn and winter-planted roses and established bushes is early spring, when growth is just beginning and the uppermost buds are swelling but no leaves have appeared.

The traditional method involves cutting out all dead wood and diseased or damaged stems, removing branches which are rubbing against each other and aiming for an open-centred bush.

Then cut out all unripe stems – if the thorns bend or tear rather than snapping off cleanly, the wood is unripe.

You should be left with about six key stems that define the shape of your rose bush. For hybrid teas, otherwise known as modern bush roses, cut back each of these stems by at least half. For other shrub roses, prune lightly so they don’t become top heavy.

Also watch for suckers, vigorous growths which emerge from a point low down on the plant, close to the root system. If you leave them, they can choke the plant or reduce its vigour. Suckers are easy to identify because they have different leaves and growth habit. Just pull them off, as cutting encourages them, as does hoeing around the base.

As it’s been so cold, leave pruning until thedanger of frost has gone. This will mean your your plants will flower slightly later.