Hybrid tea roses before their January pruning.

Yes, it’s that important time of year: It’s rose-pruning time.

You will want to finish pruning your roses by early February—preferably this week—so they can rest for a couple of weeks before our early spring tells them it’s to start growing!

Follow these steps for a healthy spring bloom! The instructions apply for all hybrid tea and Floribunda roses.


  • Use bypass pruners that work similar to scissors. Anvil-type pruners will crush your rose stems.
  • Prune the rose bush down to a height of 8 to 12 inches. Yes, it’s a lot: This will remove half to two-thirds of the plant.
  • Remove any dead canes and small twiggy growth.
  • Remove any canes that are crossing through the middle of the bush or rubbing against other canes. This also opens up the center of the plant. You want your bush to have a “vase” shape to it.
  • Make your cuts about a quarter-inch above a bud eye that is facing out from the center of the bush.
  • Strip all leaves from the canes.


  • Remove the old mulch and dead leaves, and throw them in the trash—not your compost pile. Dead leaves can often have mildew spores and other diseases on them that can infest your compost pile and create problems later on.


  • Apply both a pesticide and a fungicide to your pruned roses and the ground around the plants. Fungus spores such as mildew can live through the winter in your soil.
  • Seal pruned canes larger than a pencil with carpenter’s glue (it’s waterproof) to protect against cane-borers.
  • Check your roses in pots to see if they need to be repotted. How low is the soil in the pot? If it is lower than three inches below the rim, it is likely that the soil has become too compacted, and the tiny hair roots can’t get the oxygen they need. Lift the entire plant out of the pot; loosen any soil around the root ball; and re-pot in fresh potting soil.

Water and feed

  • Do not fertilize your roses until mid-February.
  • Continue to water your ground-planted roses once or twice a week depending on the daytime temperatures. Be sure you are deep watering to a depth of 18 to 24 inches.
  • Roses in pots typically need to be watered more often than roses in the ground; provide them with a deep watering every four days or so.

Marylee is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. Email her with comments and questions at potteddesert@gmail.com, and follow the Potted Desert on Facebook. Below: Hybrid tea roses after the January cutback. Sprouting!