Posted by Brent Wilson on 8/30/2016 to Pruning Tips
If you want your climbing roses to grow vigorously and flower well each year you'll want to do some pruning. If you don't prune them at all climbing roses can become a tangled mess of branches with diminished flowering as time goes by. Although often considered complicated, rose pruning is not difficult if you follow some simple guidelines.
The method provided here is suitable for climbing roses including miniatures, boursalt, noisette and climbing bourbon roses. Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between a climbing rose and a rambling rose. The easiest way to tell the difference is that climbing roses will repeat-flower almost all summer and well into fall, while a rambling rose flowers only once and then they're done.
When to Prune
Climbing roses can be pruned any time between late fall after flowers have faded and late winter. I usually prune them in late winter, before new growth begins to emerge in spring. Reason being, it's much easier to prune a rose when there's no foliage on the plant. Too, roses respond better to major pruning in late winter, growing back vigorously when spring arrives.
Pruning Young Climbing Roses
When planting a new climbing rose know that they are not self-clinging and therefore will require some type of structure to grow on that shoots can be tied to.
If you use wires, set the lowest wire 18 inches off the ground and space subsequent wires about a foot or so apart.
If training roses up pillars, arches or pergolas, twist the main branches gently around the uprights, keeping them as horizontal as possible, to encourage flowering shoots to form low down.
If the main stems are slow to branch, tip-prune them to the first strong bud to encourage side shoots, otherwise leave them to fill the available space.
During the flowering season keep faded flowers deadheaded to encourage further flowering.
Routine Pruning of Climbing Roses
In late winter, remove dead, damaged, diseased or spindly branches.
Tie any loose branches as needed to fill the supports.
Prune any flowered side branches back by two thirds of their length.
If the plant is heavily congested, cut out any really old branches from the base to promote new growth and also remove any crossing or awkwardly placed branches.
If any of the older, woody canes have failed to bloom well during the previous season, prune them off, too.
Any canes that have outgrown their support can be trimmed to set them back inbounds.
Pruning Overgrown Climbing Roses
Start by removing all dead, diseased, weak or dying branches.
Cut some of the old woody branches to the ground, retaining a maximum of six young, vigorous stems that can be secured to supports.
Saw away any dead stumps at the base of the plant, where rain can collect and cause rot.
Remove any crossing or awkwardly placed branches.
Shorten side shoots on the remaining branches and prune back the tips by one third to one half, to encourage branching.
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