How to Cut Back Hybrid Roses


Hybrid roses must be cut back for several reasons. Roses must be pruned to maintain the shape and structure of the plant, and remove diseased or dead wood. Thin crowded branches to facilitate air circulation and light reflection. And cutting back hybrid roses encourages strong new canes to grow and produce flowers. Do a heavy pruning when the rose is dormant, or semi-dormant in warmer climates. Deadheading spent flowers and other light trimming tasks are also important throughout the growing season.

Cut Back Hybrid Roses

Step 1

Locate the grafted bud union, which is a swollen place on the rose bush trunk just above the soil level. Cut back any canes that grow from below the union, because they are suckers from the rootstock. The hybrid rose canes all originate on branches above the graft. Cut suckers as close to the main trunk as possible.

Step 2

Cut out spindly canes. Anything less than the diameter of a pencil will detract from the rose plant. The rose will redirect its energy to the strong canes when you trim out the weak ones.

Step 3

Select three to five sturdy canes to keep as the framework for the rose. These should be outward facing canes growing around the outer part of the plant. Prune each of them back to a viable bud, making the cut at a 45 degree angle about 1/2 inch above the bud. The wood you cut through should have healthy white pith in the center. The canes should be 10 to 12 inches long after you prune them. The buds you left on these canes will become the new flowering branches when the rose comes out of dormancy.

Step 4

Cut back crowded canes in the center of the plant. Hybrid roses, especially teas, have a naturally upright growth habit which causes lots of canes to grow close together. They will block air circulation and will not receive adequate light; they will become a drain on the plant. Cut these center canes close to the bud union to remove as much as possible.

Step 5

Clean up everything you trimmed from the rose plant and remove it for disposal. Keep all pruning trimmings, dropped leaves, spent flowers and petals, and other plant debris cleared away from the rose plants. Debris can harbor insects, molds, and plant diseases.

Things You'll Need

  • Protective gloves
  • Sharp pruning clippers
  • Pruning saw, optional


  • Prune hybrid roses
  • The Victory Garden: The Essential Companion, Jim Wilson, Bob Thompson, Tom Wirth, 1995

Who Can Help

  • University of Nebraska extension, roses
Keywords: cut back hybrid roses, pruning hybrid roses, cut back rose bushes

About this Author

Fern Fischer is a freelance writer with more than 35 years' experience. Her work has been published in various print and online publications. She specializes in organic gardening, health, rural lifestyle, home and family articles. Fischer also writes about quilting and sewing, and she professionally restores antique quilts to preserve these historical pieces of women's art.