The Q&A Archives: Pruning Climbing Roses

Question: What is the proper method for pruning a climbing rose? I have a J&P "Golden Showers" and I am in Zone 7.

Answer: Climbing roses produce blooms on new shoots that grow from old wood. A climbing rose can be allowed to reach the height desired before any pruning begins, which means leaving it untouched for 2-3 years. When the rose reaches its desired height, start training it horizontally to encourage production of sideshoots off of the main canes. Most climbers flower well with little pruning besides removal of dead, diseased or weak growth. The main canes only need pruning back to keep it from traveling too far, and laterals (sideshoots) can be lightly pruned back 3 to 6 inches or 3 to 4 buds. After at least three years, you can remove a few of the oldest canes to induce new main cane growth. In this way, the rose will always have a majority of 2 to 3 year old wood from which the flowering laterals grow.

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