How to Trim Climbing Rose Bushes


The hardy, scarlet "Blaze," the fragrant "Cecile Brunner" and the magnificent "Lady Banks," growing more than 12 feet tall with profuse yellow blossoms, are all attractive roses to grow. And like all climbing roses, they require special pruning treatment. Climbers benefit from pruning, but editors of the "Sunset Western Garden Guide" caution gardeners to prune conservatively until they are sure about the plant's growth patterns.

Step 1

Cut branches that are dead, diseased or very twiggy. Use sharp clippers or loppers to ensure that your cuts are clean and not ragged; ragged cuts provide a place for bacteria or insects to take hold. The more healthy and living wood you keep, the bigger the plant will be.

Step 2

Remove any branches that rub against each other.

Step 3

Cut out branches that make the rose seem lopsided or that interfere with walking under or around the rose.

Step 4

Cut about one-third to one-fifth of the oldest canes back to the base of the plant. This process ensures that the rose is gradually renewed each year. For climbing hybrid teas and climbing floribundas, spread the canes apart and tie them in place to form a horizontal line or to form whatever shape is needed for an arbor, arch or wall.

Step 5

Cut side branches growing off the main canes back to two or three buds. This process encourages more growth and more flowering the next season.

Tips and Warnings

  • If the rose is badly infected with rust, black spot or mildew, pull off infected leaves after pruning and dispose of them. Wash remaining leaves and treat them with a commercial product for rose diseases.

Things You'll Need

  • Clippers
  • Loppers
  • Sturdy gloves


  • "The Garden Primer"; Barbara Damrosch; 1988
  • American Rose Society: Ten of the Best and Easiest to Grow Old Garden Roses
  • "Sunset Western Garden Book"; Sunset Magazine and Sunset Books; 1977

Who Can Help

  • American Rose Society: Welcome to ARS
Keywords: pruning climbing roses, pruning roses, climbing roses

About this Author

A freelance writer with an extensive career in education, Susan Lundman taught writing and communication at the Military Academy at West Point, at military bases overseas and at community colleges in the United States. Working in a non-profit agency for 20 years, she wrote grant requests, promotional material, and operating guides. Lundman's expertise includes backpacking, dance, gardening and healthy living.