Prune climbing roses is important for both the shape and the health of the plant. When the cold arrives and the days shorten, the rose bushes stop growing and enter a state of vegetative rest. This moment is the ideal time to carry out the pruning since we can manipulate them and cut the branches without causing them damage. In climbing roses we take advantage of this dormancy period to guide the growth of the branches and eliminate old, damaged, or badly located wood. The objective is to control the height of the plant and stimulate the sprouting and development of flowering branches.
There are those who feel some concern when pruning climbing roses, I confess that it has happened to me many times. It seems counterintuitive to remove those beautiful branches that the plant already has. But with pruning, you actually get a more vigorous plant. This habit is a very positive reason for bushes. It encourages new growth, removes old and dead wood and helps shape. In addition, it reduces the risk of fungal diseases, such as powdery mildew or rust, since it allows air to circulate better between the branches.
Roses have always seemed to me the essential plant in the garden, their flowers are beautiful and the aroma is delicious, but they need a lot of care to look good. The aphids, the rose wasp and the grasshoppers adore them, and what to say about the fungi. It is impossible to spend the summer without black spots and rust appearing. My intention is to keep them healthy without using chemicals. It’s complicated, but I refuse to lug around an arsenal of synthetic sprays. I have had quite a few rose bushes in the past. But this climber is the only one I have today. Pierre de Ronsard is a real beauty.
TIME TO PRUNE CLIMBING ROSES
Climbing roses are pruned in late winter. I like to do it a few days before spring, between the end of February and the beginning of March. It is important that the risk of frost has passed, so the precise moment will depend on the climate of the region where it is grown. This is because pruning stimulates tree growth and new bud formation. Which can die in heavy snowfall.
If it happens that, after pruning the climbing rose, it is affected by an unexpected frost, there is no need to fear that the plant will die. Some tender buds may be lost, but rose bushes are rustic plants capable of withstanding severe cold.
HOW TO GUIDE CLIMBING ROSES
To guide and prune climbing roses and get them to produce many roses we must know their growth and flowering habit. In the case of climbers, two types of stems are distinguished:
- Main stems: they sprout from the ground and are long and strong branches.
- Secondary stems: they sprout from a main stem and are usually shorter and more flexible. It is these branches that will produce flowers.
The main branches of a climbing rose are formed at the root, so they are seen to sprout from the ground. The first year they only grow in length. Rarely without the formation of lateral branches, and for this reason, they usually do not bloom profusely. It is possible that in that first year they give a flower at the end. But you don’t have to wait much longer. It will be the side branches that bloom, but that will already be from the second year. The first season you should focus on guiding the long stems well so that, to the next, many secondary branches and, with them, many flowers.
The secondary stems of a climbing rose are formed along a main stem and are the ones that produce roses. The development of these secondary branches is favored if the main one is in a horizontal position. Therefore, it is advisable to take each of the main stems and bend them until they are as horizontal as possible.
FORMATION OF A CLIMBING ROSE AND TIED TO A SUPPORT
Although they are called “climbers”, the rose bushes do not fasten themselves to a wall or a column, they need a support to tie them to so that they remain upright. For this you can use a lattice, a metal fence or some wires nailed to the wall.
The first seasons do not have to prune the climbing roses. The main branches are allowed to grow to the height of interest. You will not have a great flowering, but the main thing is to give it the right structure, with three or five main branches. Even seven if you want to cover a very large wall. Carefully bend these branches to extend them as horizontally as possible from the base (they should not cross). And secure them to a support.
Tensioned cables are a good restraint system for climbing roses. The horizontal position of the main stems will stimulate the appearance of new branches in the axillary buds. These buds will generally grow upright and produce flowers.
HOW TO PRUNE A CLIMBING ROSE
The second year is when the rose bush has already blossomed enough, especially if it is given the right size. Its main branches are then operated in a horizontal position.. When the time comes, the secondary branches are pruned by shortening their length so that two or three buds remain on each of them. From these buds, the following season, new branches will form that will give more roses at their ends.
The main stems are only cut when they age and stop producing secondary branches. You can tell because they become woody, brown, and cracked. At the bottom they do not produce secondary branches and only give flowers in the highest part. As almost every year a new main stem sprouts from the base and the ideal is to maintain a structure of between 3 and 7 main stems, you can take advantage of it to rejuvenate the rose bush and cut another that has aged and is not productive. When you decide to remove one of these branches, you will cut it almost flush with the ground.
In the following image you can see a main stem and a secondary branch very clearly. I have also marked the place where I will cut at the time of pruning , leaving a couple of buds on the branch. If you were in a region with an extremely cold climate, perhaps you would leave three, to have a better chance of success in case one of them freezes over.