Pruning a Climbing Rose - Knowledgebase Question

Memphis,, TN
Question by fguinle
January 10, 2000
Now that winter is approaching, should I prune back my climbing rose? It was planted as a bare-root plant last spring, and did not bloom this year.


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Answer from NGA
January 10, 2000

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Pruning climbing roses is somewhat different than pruning other roses. Climbers don't "climb" by twining themselves the way ivy and similar vines do. They grow longer and longer vigorous arching canes, which will form a huge sprawling shrub, unless you tie them to a support, such as a trellis or arbor. After planting, climbers should be left alone for two to three years so they can develop long, sturdy canes. Prune only as much as is necessary to keep them within the desired boundary and to remove dead or damaged canes.

After two or three years, your goal is to select the sturdiest canes and tie them to the support in even spacing. These main canes form the basic structure of the plant. Other canes should be removed. After you bend these structural canes and tie them to the support, new growth sprouts along their length; these are the flowering shoots.

During dormancy, you can cut back these shoots to about two to three buds above the structural canes. If a structural cane becomes old, damaged or doesn't bloom, prune it out. New canes will arise from the base of the plant.

If it's a spring-blooming climber: Wait until after they bloom to prune, then remove more of the older structural canes. The new canes produce most of the next spring's bloom.

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