The Q&A Archives: Training rose over arbor

Question: I have two climbing roses on either side of an arbor. Both are doing great but they are growing bushy rather than growing vertically where they can cover the arbor. How do I train them to move upward so they can wind around arbor rather than growing laterally?

Answer: You didn't say how long your climbing roses have been in the ground, but I suspect not long. For the first two or three years after planting, your new climbing rose will not require any pruning. During this initial period, your climbing roses should send up a few long stems, which you can tie up to be trained into a basic framework for future shape. From the horizontal older framework of branches on your climbing roses, you will find new shoots will sprout along the main branches from early spring. In early summer - or right after flowering, if they flower - cut back these shoots to within 4-6in of the main lateral stems. The new shoots that then grow from these pruning cuts, will be your flowering shoots for next year. Depending upon variety, these new shoots will grow to around 10-12in and produce flowers early summer the following year. Climbing roses flower best on stems that were produced the previous year, so pruning of your climbing rose each summer is important if you want to obtain the best results for the following year. The bottom line is that your climbers need to develop long, upright shoots - and they will - in their own sweet time. Once they do you can train them up the arbor, tying if necessary to coax them upward. Enjoy!

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