Yearly Guide to Establishing and Pruning Climbing Roses
The following illustrations about pruning climbing roses are provided with the notes that;
1) I'm a gardener and not an illustrator.
2) That these are simplified drawings to illustrate the general principles.
3) You'll have to figure out which branch is which when you get doing this in your own garden.
Luckily, this is what we call experience and no amount of web info is going to provide you with this.
And luckily again, roses are amazingly forgiving plants and if you mess up, they'll simply grow out of it for the most part.
Good luck with your pruning efforts.
The first year, simply allow the rose to throw shoots. Feed it and love it as per the directions on this website. It will likly produce a bunch of canes and may or may not flower depending on the variety.
In year two as the next illustration indicates, remove all but 3 to 5 of the strongest canes. In this example, I'm going to use 3 canes for ease of drawing.
In the spring of year 2, your canes should be 4-6 feet tall and you're encouraged to cut off the last two feet or so to bring the canes down to 3-4 feet tall. This will encourage the development of flowering side shoots.
You can see the slightly highlighted portion of the sideshoots (I've only put 2 on each cane to keep things simple. In real life, there will be a lot more flowering canes being thrown.
In year 3, you're once again going to cut back those long flowering shoots. They should have easily reached 8 feet tall. Feel free to cut them back by one-third to one-half their original height.
And here's how the resulting growth will once again look. Remember this is simplified and if you feed and water properly you'll have many more flowering canes than this.
In subsequent years, cut out all dead wood in the spring. Cut out roughly one third of all previous years cane growth allowing new canes to grow into their space. It is repeating the year three pruning ad nauseum or until you kill the plant (hopefully many years in the future).
Pruning climbing roses only gets difficult when you try to get your hands into the middle of some thorny rose and it fights back. :-)
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