Cut Back Climbing Rose?

raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)March 8, 2014

Posted this earlier but it never showed up. Second verse, same as the first.

We have what I think is a climbing rose. Problem is, its very, very tall (around 15') and most of the blooms are at the top. Can I whack it back about half way so the blooms are more eye- (and nose-) level?

In the photo below, there's a jasmine bush in front of it and a big blackberry bush behind it. The rose has the reddish stems.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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buford(7 NE GA)

Climbers are supposed to be horizontal. When the cane is trained horizontally, there will be lateral canes that shoot up all along the main cane and all of those will have flowers.

If you cut the main cane down and leave it vertical, you will just have a shorter rose with flowers at the top, and it will keep growing and growing. Are you able to bend the canes horizontally along the fence?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 7:44PM
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Buford is correct. Can you trim away some of the jasmine bush, and gently bend one or more long canes of the rose to go as horizontally as possible on the fence? You will have to tie them, of course. Then it will be shorter, and you will get sprouts and blooms all along the horizontal canes.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 8:25PM
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seil zone 6b MI

Trapped between the jasmine and the blackberry the rose took the only path it could. UP! It's looking for sunlight. You either need to cut back the other bushes severely or move that rose to a place where it doesn't have to compete so much for sun, water and nutrients.

As buford and Jackie said, the more horizontal you can spread the canes on a climber the more bloom you will get. Can you move it to the other side of where that shovel is leaning on the fence and spread it out along the fence? It might give you a wonderful display of blooms there.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 10:06PM
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raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)

Thanks for the advice here. I'll try running it horizontally along the fence. How would I go about adhering it to the fence? I've got a roll of that stretchy green plant tie material. Perhaps put a nail in the fence every three feet or so and tie it with the plant ties?

And is this a good time of year to do it?

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 11:23PM
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bayarea_girl(NorCA 9)

I am not an expert in climbing roses because my climbing roses were just planted last year and this year. However, I came across Paul Zimmerman videos explaining how to prune and training them and can't wait for my climbing roses to grow long enough for me to that. I think his videos will help you.

Paul Zimmerman:

Pruning & Controlling a Climbing Rose

Training A Rose On A Trellis

This post was edited by bayarea-girl on Sat, Mar 8, 14 at 23:42

    Bookmark   March 8, 2014 at 11:41PM
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bart_2010(8/9 Italy)

Paul Zimmerman's advice and videos are fantastically good,and I love his easy-going, "can-do" attitude towards rose growing. Highly, highly recommended...bart

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 5:28AM
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mzstitch(Zone 7b South Carolina)

Yes, the green stretchy plant tie works well, that's how I have always tied my roses.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 8:46AM
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The stretchy green tape will work fine. Instead of nails, you can get little "screw eyes" - they have the pointy end of screws, but the other end is a circle. You just screw them into the fence, and tie the green tape through the circle.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 10:05AM
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cecily(7 VA)

Since you're in California, that may not be a climbing rose -- could be a big, old hybrid tea reaching for the light. Both hybrid teas and climbers will have stout, barky older canes. Climbers will have supple young green canes which you can bend. HTs have stiff young canes. If the young canes don't bend easily, don't try to force them.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 11:04AM
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raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)

Wow, so many great replies here! Thank you all.

Bayarea-girl, those Paul Zimmerman videos were excellent! Thank you for the links.

Jacqueline3, the screw eyes are an excellent idea.

After watching the videos, I'm less certain this rose is a climber. I get the impression that climbers are much like blackberries, where they are constantly creating loooong canes. This rose is probably a decade old and is still fairly compact. Would that indicate it's not a climber?

Cecily, I just went out and examined the canes, and even the younger ones feel pretty stiff. I'm starting to think I don't have a climber after all.

So if this isn't a climber and is a -- what's the term, rambler? --would my approach be drastically different? Would it be more of a pruning approach instead of a bending canes approach?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 3:04PM
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Most likely the canes will break if you try to bend them over all at once. Just pull the tops to the right (towards the shovel) and tie them off. Next month bend them some more. By the end of the season they should be where you want them without any canes being broken. Use strong ties as the extra branches and flowers will add a lot of weight. (I use #14 black house wiring so I don't have to keep going back and retying them.) Leave room for the canes to expand where you tie them off at.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 10:10PM
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raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)

So I finally fixed the fence, cut back the surrounding plants that were crowding the rose, and attempted to attach the long rose branches to the top of the fence. However, it doesn't look very good. Basically, the corner, where we wanted a flush of roses, is bare with nothing but long, thick (1.5") stems (no foliage or flowers). Ten feet down the fence is where the branches fill out with leaves and roses, so the corner is just naked and ugly. If I cut the vines way back to about the size of the 8' arbor, will new branches emerge from the thick naked canes? But if I do that, the plant won't have any leaves, so would that kill the plant? Not sure what to do here.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 6:47PM
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Paul Zimmerman is the man..

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 2:51PM
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You need to WAIT. The long bare cane has just been tied quasi-horizontally to the fence, right? It will start sprouting new sprouts, canes, and blooms all along its length. It might not all happen this year, but it will happen more next Spring. Then you can take those new canes coming out of it (called laterals - look at the video), and tie them to the fence also. Training roses does not happen all at once - they are always bare at the beginning. Patience is a virtue when dealing with roses.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 8:22PM
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raymondo17(z9 Sacramento)

Thanks for the replies.

Jackie, you're right that patience is needed with roses. But even if the roses bloomed spectacularly from those long main canes, the problem is that the corner, where we want the rose blooms, will remain bare.

I appreciate zyperiris' nudge toward watching the Zimmerman videos again. I found one of Paul's videos on YouTube regarding "pegging," which I've never heard of before. I think that may be the solution -- to bend the long canes back toward the center of the plant, or over the top and back down. Hopefully I can get the canes to bend in such a way that they primarily take up the space we originally allotted for the roses, resulting in blooms along the height of the arbor and not trailing off in different directions along the fence. And perhaps cutting out one of the large canes every year to inspire new growth. Like you said, Jackie, patience is a virtue.

And yes, Paul Zimmerman is such a treat to watch. Love him!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 8:39PM
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minflick(9b/7, Boulder Creek, CA)

I had to cut a climbing Cecille Brunner WAY back to move her from the front of the house (she was eating the house....) across the driveway to a fence along our road. Here's what it looked like a week ago or so, when all new laterals were big enough to be seen. Outside the frame of the picture, at the base of the plant, are new small shoots leafing out (it was fairly nekkid before I chopped it back to move it, and REALLY nekkid once ready to lift and shuffle across the driveway).

The canes are just resting along the top line of the fence now, but they were tied to horizontal wire running through eyebolts across the front of the house, and will not go upright now that they have been trained to go sideways. Getting them to go sideways was quite the trick, and I used 24" pieces of jute twine to tie them loosely, and then once a week or so I snugged the ties up to get the thing flatter to the wire. My main canes are nearly 1" thick now, and were probably 1/2" thick when I started pulling them down to horizontal. The laterals are nearly twice as long now as they were in this picture.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 12:23AM
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