How Do You Cut Back Climbing Roses?


Climbing roses provide a romantic and fragrant addition to any trellis, wall or fence. This colorful blooming wall of flowers will grow profusely throughout the season. To keep the plant healthy from one season to the next, it is important to cut back the roses when they are dormant. Perform this task annually to keep the roses from becoming overgrown and thus overwhelming to prune. With a sharp pair of garden shears, this task can be completed very simply once you know where to cut.

Step 1

Identify the base shape of your climbing roses. Plan to keep about four to six supporting canes on each side of the plant. These canes can span the desired reach of the roses. If they extend past the area where you want them to climb, you may need to shorten the supporting canes. These canes should be green and healthy. Pruning your roses back to this number of canes will help to keep the plant open and allow enough room for annual spread. Climbing roses with too many canes will look unruly by the end of the season and will be more difficult to maintain on an annual basis. Plan to prune your climbing roses during the dormant season.

Step 2

Remove all dead or diseased canes as well as those that do not fit in with the basic structure identified in Step 1. Allow plenty of room for growth and spread in the following season. Wear garden gloves to protect your hands during pruning and use sharp garden shears to complete the job. Cut the canes off by making a flush cut with the bud union.

Step 3

Eliminate branches that cross with other branches, confusing the shape of the plant. Step back and survey your work often to ensure that you do not over-prune the climbing rose.

Step 4

Remove buds until each branch has only two to five healthy buds remaining. Remove buds by making a clean cut flush with the branch.

Step 5

Trim remaining buds by cutting at a 45-degree angle about 1/8 inch above the bud.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden shears
  • Garden gloves


  • Weekend Gardener: How to Prune Roses
  • Fine Gardening: Pruning Climbing Roses
  • Ed Hume Seeds: How to Prune Roses
Keywords: pruning roses, trimming roses, climbing roses

About this Author

Mandi Rogier is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about a wide range of topics. As a previous employee of Walt Disney World, she enjoys writing travel articles that make use of her extensive knowledge of Orlando theme parks.