Answer: Rosarians I know recommend a major pruning when the plant is dormant in late winter to ready it for peak bloom in spring. Different rose types require different types of pruning, but typically it's best not to cut more than 1/3 of the plant back at a time. Then a light pruning follows in September, which can promote more bloom. The book, "Roses for Dummies" can provide more specifics on pruning. Also, check for rose societies/garden clubs in your area. They often give pruning demonstrations which are very helpful to observe if you've never done it before. The American Rose Society, PO Box 30,000, Shreveport, LA, 71130-0030, 318/938 5402, 318/938-5405 fax. can help you locate a club.
There are many, many books available to help first-time gardeners. One of the best, especially for west coast gardens, is Sunset Western Garden Book. It lists the cultural requirements of all the best plant selections for your gardening region. Another good reference book is Rodale's Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. Both books are readily available in bookstores and in libraries.
Good luck with your new hobby!
Q&A Library Searching Tips