Pruning climbing roses is vital because they follow a certain growth pattern and they need to be pruned well and on time. Pruning your climbing roses, first and foremost, allows new growth; you get to supply new buds that blossom into flowers. Second, you get rid of any old and diseased bits that would otherwise hinder the healthy growth of your rose bushes.

It's important to understand why the way you prune your climbing roses matters. If you prune them incorrectly, you may get rid of the very branches that were going to produce new buds and blossoms - it means you miss out on the next round of flowers that season. You could also end up getting rid of parts of the rose plant that are required for healthy growth, and this will usually lead to stunted plants.

What would happen if you didn't prune your climbing roses? For one, they would not grow in the climbing fashion that they are supposed to. Branches grow upwards and outwards and if you don't curb the outwards growth, your rose bush becomes an unsightly mess. It also means that your rose bushes are using a lot of their food and water supply to feed growth that is unnecessary; that supply could be used by budding roses to get you better blooms and stronger looking climbing roses. So what is the best way of pruning climbing roses?

Let's have a look at what you need to do so that you get it done as well as possible:

  1. You need to get your tools ready. You need basic gardening gloves so that you can take care of your hands and pruners or secateurs. If your climbing roses are old and have longer, tougher branches, you may need to get yourself a pair of long-handled loppers. With these 3 tools, you'll be able to do a pruning job just the way it's supposed to be done.
  2. Clean your tools. Most rose plant species, climbing or not, are delicate and susceptible to disease from other plants. Cleaning your tools ensures that you get rid of any micro-organisms that may transfer from other plants that you had used the tools on previously.
  3. The first thing that you want to get rid of is old branches that are dead and dry. They clear the way for you to see your rose bush much more clearly and this helps you when you're shaping it. Start at the bottom because that's where most of them will be. Move upwards until you get to the point where there is no more dry foliage. By now, you can see a pretty clear outline of what your rose bush looks like. At this stage of pruning, you should cut at the stems diagonally until you get rid of any brown that may be at the pith. Once your pith starts to "bleed", you will know that you have got rid of all old parts of that stem.
  4. You are now looking at your climbing rose bush and can see the outline. Some of the twigs will have grown away from the trellis or whatever other outline you have set up for it. These are the next to go. Get rid of them, cutting them off near the stem from which they branch. Also aim for overlapping stems that sap extra energy from your plant without adding any beauty to it. Make sure that all you have left is what follows your trellis.
  5. You should now look at old branches that may have followed the trellis but didn't bloom in the last season and get rid of these too. There may also be injured stems, especially because sometimes new growth will bite into the trellis or support and injure the stem. These are most likely going to die anyway, so help your roses along by getting rid of them.
  6. Head for the top of the branch and look for overgrowth - branches that are looking great but have no buds to flower, and especially if there are too many of them. Cut them off ¼ way from their tops so that you're left with very few, and most of what is at the top is branches that are ready to produce blooms.
  7. Step back and look at your plant - you should do this at every stage of the pruning by the way. It's likely that all you have left now is the healthy branches that have buds and are ready to bloom. You can now arrange these gently so that they follow your trellis. Sometimes, you may find that a particularly healthy branch is moving away too much from the trellis. Use a rubber band to tie it down gently and before long, it will follow the trellis itself.
  8. When pruning climbing roses, and even in all other forms of rose gardening, you should aim to prune branches using diagonal cuts, parallel with the angle that they seem to be budding at. Also use sharp tools as blunt ones may kill the live cells around the pruned area as you struggle to cut.

Margaret Carter has been a Rosarian for over 20 years. If you have found this article helpful, visit Pruning Climbing Roses to discover more. Click Here for your FREE Minicourse

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Last modified on Wednesday, 03 June 2015 15:55
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