Pruning Climbing Roses That Repeat

How To Prune Climbing Roses That Bloom Once

Order rose bushes. Several beautiful species.

Pruning climbing roses offers instructions for pruning repeat bloomers and for ramblers that flower just once each spring. When and how to prune climbers for the first 3 years after planting them.

There is no better plant with which to dress a wall than the climbing rose.Most climbing roses flower repeatedly throughout the growing season.Other types bloom only once each spring.

The two types require different pruning methods.

I’ll begin with the repeat bloomers.

Pruning Roses That Bloom All Season

Rose, Climbing Thornless

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For the first 2-3 years after planting, prune only to remove dead, damaged, or crossing wood (stems that are rubbing against another stem–remove the weakest one). You’ve got to let the main stems grow tall. You’ll be training them during this time.

Climbing roses bloom most heavily when their stems are trained horizontally; so don’t just tie them straight up whatever support you are using.

Fan the stems out. A wall works better for this than a trellis.

If you’ve got to use a trellis, use the widest one your space will permit. You’ll be glad you went to the extra trouble when you see the number of flowers that result.

The long, main canes bear the flowering lateral branches.

Sweet Solitude, 1919
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Branches trained along the horizon or pegged to the ground produce many more laterals than branches that are allowed to grow straight up. The blooms will also occur at a lower height where they can be seen and appreciated. Pegging gives the most spectacular flower show if you can spare the space.

To peg a climbing rose, let the main stems grow long. While they are still flexible, bow them over gently and peg their tips to the ground using bent wire. Pieces of wire coat hangers bent into a U shape will work. Try to peg the stems an equal distance apart in a big circle. If you don’t have room for a circle, use half as many stems and do a half circle. The half circle works well for roses that are planted against a wall.

Once you’ve established your framework, this is how you will prune the rose each year:

  1. Remove any old, unproductive stems to make room for fresh replacements to grow. Otherwise, only head back the main canes if they are outgrowing their allotted space.
  2. Head back the laterals to 2 or 3 buds.
  3. During the growing season, cut the laterals back to a bud 3 leaves above the main stem after they flower. This will encourage rebloom.

How to Prune Climbing Roses That Only Bloom Once

Roses Climbing Over Front of House in the Loire Valley, Loches, France
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Remove obviously unproductive older canes that show no signs of shooting by cutting them to the ground. Cut all other canes back to any strong growth they are producing. This new growth is where next springs blooms will form.

Remove damaged or crossing branches.

Pruning Climbing Roses
When to Prune Roses

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Repeat blooming climbing rose pruning should be carried out in the spring, after the last frost but while the plants are still dormant.

You’ll want to be pruning climbing roses while the plants are still “naked”. It’s much easier to see what needs to come out when there aren’t any leaves in the way.

Also, in early spring, all the frost damage will be apparent.

Since these roses bloom on new wood, you won’t be losing any flowers by pruning them in the spring.

Rose – William Baffin – Climbing
from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

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from: Nature Hills Nursery, Inc.

Because spring-blooming ramblers flower on wood produced after the previous season’s bloom, pruning them while they are dormant will keep them from blooming.

Prune these roses immediately after they finish blooming.

Wait until new shoots begin to form as these will tell you what wood is still productive.

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