How and When to Prune Climbing Roses

Few flowers are more popular than roses with climbing roses being perfect for offering extra height and dimension to your beautiful English country garden.

While roses are famous for their summer blooms, now is the time to give them some TLC and pruning will ensure they are at their best as the weather improves.

Climbing roses should be cut back in late winter or early spring when the first growth begins to appear.  The only exception are rambling roses which should be pruned straight after they have flowered.

If you don’t prune your climbing rose, you will probably end up with a lot of weak and twiggy stems which will take over at the expense of flowers.

Crossing stems can also lead to dieback and disease which could make your climbing rose more prone to fungal infections.

However, good pruning encourages fresh new growth which will yield plentiful blooms come the summer.

Firstly, identify the side stems of your rose which will need to be cut back. These will be the ones growing off the long, thick stems at the base of your rose. Cut back these side shoots to within two to three inches of the main stem.

You should also get rid of any weak or dead stems. Remove these completely as they won’t hold a bloom in the summer but will take some of the plant’s energy. Any thick or brown dead stems should be cut off at the base of the rose and also remove any foliage as you prune.

Young roses should be treated more delicately than more established ones. In their first year, any stems which are growing away from the structure should be cut back along with dead, dying, damaged or diseased stems.

Longer stems should be pulled down to 45 degrees and tied to their support which could be a wall or fence or a more decorative structure such as an obelisk, pergola or arch.

Once your climbing rose is fully established, you can prune it back harder and your rose will appreciate this attention.

Cut away growth which goes away from the structure and cannot be tied. If your climber is vigorous, feel free to cut away the weakest growth as well as cutting back the old flowering stems.

Side shoots should be cut back to four healthy buds which should be cut just above a bud pointing in the direction you want the new stem to grow. This will guide your rose to create a healthy, sustainable structure which is not tangled up with inward growing stems.

These strong stems will add further structure to the plant and help to create a stunning shape once the flowers bloom in the summer.

You should be able to cut back most of the stems with secateurs but a pair of long handled loppers will be useful for tackling high or thick branches.

The main framework of stems can be left unpruned unless they are growing beyond their support.

After pruning, tie the stems of your climbing rose to its support, ready for the growing season ahead.

Then just sit back and look forward to a blooming marvellous display in the summer.