The Q&A Archives: Pruning A Climber Rose

Question: What is an easy way to determine what should be pruned off a climber to avoid cutting off all the color and leaving the old rose only?

Answer: It depends on the age of your climber. After planting, leave a climbing rose alone for two to three years so they can develop strong, long, sturdy canes. Just try to keep them within bounds and remove dead or damaged growth. After that time period you prune for structure. Think of your climber as having two parts, the flowering shoots and the main structural canes. Your job is to select the sturdiest looking canes and tie them to the support in some evenly spaced manner. The number of canes you choose depends upon the size of your support and the rose's age. Remove all of the canes that you have not selected for this main structure. New growth (flowering shoots) will appear along these canes. During dormancy (winter) you should cut back these shoots to approximately two to three buds above the structural canes. Occasionally, through the years, your structural canes will get old and woody and will stop producing as well as they once did. At that point remove it, all the way to the base, new canes will arise.

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