Saturday, February 3, 2018

Pruning Climbing Roses

Madame Alfred Carriere

Pruning Climbing Roses

Many benefits can be derived from roses which send out long canes looking for as much sunshine and support as they can find. These include providing a verticle element in the garden, filling spaces that shrub roses can't fit into, adding extra security along fences to keep out unwanted visitors, and being among the first roses to bloom in the springtime.

Unlike other plants which are called "climbing," roses do not produce tendrils, like grapes, which wrap themselves around what they cling to or, like ivy and trumpet vine, produce invasive growths which work their way right into tiny spaces on or between boards and the bark of trees. Both of the latter will overtime bust up fences.

Climbing species roses often have evolved hooked thorns which help them cling better to their support or to themselves in the wild. Garden climbers, however, all need their gardeners to tie them down or provide material they can weave themselves into and out of.

Pruning climbers can be a daunting chore but it's one I always look forward to as I can do it while standing up and when the garden bed is wet. The top of my fence which surrounds the back garden also gives me a guideline as to the ideal height and the cross boards easily support the horizontal canes. Pruning will help them rest and build up strength for a magnificent first of the season bloom.

Like pruning other roses, several principals remain the same. Remove all dead wood or damaged canes, snip off spindly growth especially lower down on the verticle canes, pull off and discard all of last year's leaves, and check to make certain your support is still tightly secured to the fence, arbor, trellis or archway.

When pruning a climbing rose, leave stubs from last year's growth along horizontal canes. Flowering stalks will emerge from these growths and provide a profuse bloom.

While pruning, check the ground around your climbing roses. If they are grafted, you want to make sure that the bud union rests at the soil line and some light and warmth reaches it as that's where your new growth will come from.

I usually try to prune my largest climbers a little before winter's wind and rain. Here's the work I did on my noisette rose "Madame Alfred Carriere."
Madame Alfred Carriere Before Pruning

Madame Alfred Carriere After Pruning

It may seem drastic but Madame Alfred Carriere is a vigorous noisette rose and will soon respond to the rest period and the lengthening days. My purpose in pruning is to keep the rose a manageable size and to maximize the flowers. Noisette roses bloom repeatedly throughout the year.

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