How to Prune Hybrid Tea Roses
Learn how to make the proper cuts to keep these expensive plants looking good
Pruning roses stimulates growth and flowering, and it removes dead, weak, or sickly canes that can drain energy from the roses and encourage disease. In this video, Peter Kukielski, curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden, demonstrates the best way to prune hybrid tea roses.
Know your goals, and get started
If you were happy with the growth that your rose had last year, your cuts should ensure that the plant does the same this year. Prune in late winter or early spring, after the worst of winter but before the plant puts on new growth.
To begin, remove the upper branches to get access to the rose’s interior architecture. Make sure your canes are strong to support the new growth to come this year.
If your branches are too small to support new, strong growth, remove them. If a branch is growing toward the interior of the plant rather than the exterior, remove it as well.
If your plant already has buds forming, pay attention to what direction that branch will grow toward. You want branches that will grow outward, helping to create the desired vaselike shape. If you have buds that are facing inward, you can just snip them off now.
Cutting down to the strongest canes
Spring pruning often reveals some insect damage from the previous year. Holes in the wood can indicate cane borers, wood-boring beetles that are attracted to the healthy, white wood in a plant. When you make a cut and see a hole in your cane, you know that cane has been infested by this insect. Continue cutting the cane until there is no longer a hole and the wood inside is healthy and white.
A good indicator to see if you’ve cut down your plant enough is the size of the canes. If they’re the size of a pencil or bigger, they will be strong enough to support new growth and flowers. Anything smaller should be removed.
Additionally, remove any dead wood that will no longer produce blooms.