How should I prune hybrid tea roses in spring?


How should I prune hybrid tea roses in spring?


The upper portions of hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses typically die due to exposure to low winter temperatures and extreme temperature changes.  When the winter protection is removed from these roses in early spring (late March to mid-April), gardeners should prune out the dead wood. 

Finding Dead Rose Canes

Identifying live and dead wood is easy.  Live wood is green and has plump, healthy buds.  When pruned, the center of the stem (pith) is white.  Dead wood is brown and has no live buds.  It’s pith is brown or gray. 


When pruning roses, make the cuts at least 1 inch below the dead, brown-colored areas on the canes.  Make slanting cuts about 1/4 inch above healthy, outward-facing buds.  The slant being made in the same direction as the bud.  Remove the entire cane if there is no sign of life. 

Winter Damage

Because of our severe winter weather, hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses often suffer a great deal of winter damage.  Normally, the primary objective of rosarians in the upper midwest is to remove all dead wood and save as much of the live tissue as possible.  If roses suffer little winter damage because of a mild winter, prune the rose canes back to within 8 to 12 inches of the ground. 

Learn more about growing roses in this article: Growing Roses in Iowa.

Last updated on
June 30, 2023