Pruning of Climbing Roses

gaildragOctober 7, 2008

Although I am an avid perennial gardener I have had little success with roses. I did plant a climber around an outdoor fountain, with a trellis on either side - all against a perimeter fence. The canes have gone wild and are literally 12' plus tall. They however just look unruly and scraggly.

Does anyone have any suggestions. I also cut them down in the spring (I've read up and everyone has different advice on pruning)and got little bloom compared to last year. This is their third year of growth.

Any suggestions would be helpful. Also overwintering - we are in SW Ontario so last year saw a LOT of snow and fairly cold temperatures. I would say averages of -15C (35F - 40F standard). Not really that cold but lots of snow last year.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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karl_bapst_rosenut(5a, NW Indiana)

I don't prune my climbers in my zone 5 garden until spring, then I remove only winter dieback and damage. My climbers bloomed well this, their 3rd year.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 2:22PM
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It would be helpful to know what the climber is you are referring to. In our garden all climbers are not treated the same. For instance if you have a "sport" you most likely need to tie the canes as horizontally as possible in order to get lateral canes from each eye along the cane. The flower is produced on each lateral. Otherwise, you will only get bloom from the top of the canes. Sometimes a true climber doesn't need to be tied in horizonally and will produce flower even when kept shorter. Many people think they should prune their climber like hybrid teas or floribundas and that's why they don't get much flower (only from the top of the canes) If you could spread the 12 ft canes out horizonally, can you imagine the bloom you would get next year, providing of course they make it through the winter.

Since you are in a colder zone though, I'm assuming you would have chosen a cane hardy cultivar. If you don't know the rose you have, I would not prune now, but I would secure the canes in order to protect them over winter. With most climbers, you should do very little pruning except to cut out very old non producing canes and then just tip back the winter damage - at least that's what I do with my climbers. Others may have better suggestions for you.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 2:42PM
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dan_keil_cr Keil(Illinois z5)

A lot of climbers will bloom on the old wood from last year. So if you cut your climbers back now you won't have much bloom next year! The ht climbers will bloom on new wood.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 3:57PM
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roseman(Z 8A GA)

You don't prune a climber until after the first flush of bloom. This is a universal that does not depend on what the climber is.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 1:40PM
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lori_elf z6b MD

I usually train my climbers in the fall so the long canes don't get whipped around and damaged during winter storms. You need to get the long canes as horizontally as possible to get more blooms to break along the length of them. I tie each cane carefully with twine to a support like a trellis or fence. Think of creating a fan for a pleasing effect. Then for the laterals which come out from the main canes, you can cut those back to three bud-eyes or so, which is "spur prunning" the way it was described to me. In a northern climate, you might want to wait until spring to do the spur prunning if the climber suffers from a lot of winter die-back.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 8:32PM
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Hi, I live in Shreveport La. I planted a beautiful golden showers climbing rose during the early summer, I'm now noticing the leaves on it and all the nearby rose bushes are turning yellow, not enough water? or do I need to fertilize and with what fertilizer? Also, how should I cut my golden showers back for the winter and will it grow back?
Many ques!! thanks

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 1:53PM
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roseman(Z 8A GA)

The general rule of thumb is not to prune a climber until after that first flush of bloom in the spring. At that time, take out all the old or non-productive wood. Climbers bloom on wood produced the year before, so if you cut them back severely, you will have no blooms and recovery will be very slow. Of course, in the fall, when they tend to get "leggy," you may cut them back one-third to keep things under control.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 9:38AM
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gaggysbeach(zone 8)

Hey Kelly, Howdy Neighbor! I live in Greenwood, LA; I planted a Golden Showers this past spring; AND, my birthday is December 26th. How's that for having something in common! Talk about coincidence...

I LOVE my Golden Showers. It grew so well for it's first year and is probably about 8 feet high right now. It is just blooming it's head off. I bought mine in a big pot at Home Depot. I don't plan to do a thing to mine till spring. I have fertilized it regularly all summer. I don't think you can water a rose too much. I water every three or four days unless we get a good rain.

Nice to meet cha!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 9:35PM
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pfzimmerman(6/7 Upstate SC)

IÂm of mixed mind on this. IÂve pruned hundreds of repeat blooming climbers in winter only to be followed by a nice spring flush. Last year I took my Silver Moon (spring flowering rambler) back very hard in January and she bloomed nicely in spring  but not as well as when left alone or pruned hard after spring flowering.

My rule of thumb is repeat flowering climbers can "pruned" during the season while deadheading to keep them in bounds. But prune laterals and not main canes. Spring flowering ramblers are, if needed, best pruned after spring flowering and then lightly pruned in winter if needed to keep them tidy.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 10:19PM
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Thanks everyone for your excellent advice. Loud and clear is not to prune so I'll be trellising them for next spring. Thanks everyone - what a great forum for gardeners!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 10:12AM
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