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How to Trim Climbing Roses

By D.C. Winston ; Updated September 21, 2017
Climbing roses in full bloom.

Climbing roses are one of several types of rose growth forms along with shrub, rambler and miniature roses. There are many dozens if not hundreds of climbing rose cultivars, but all fall into two main types: those that bloom once a year, usually in early summer, and those that bloom repeatedly throughout the growing season. All produce flowers on young, tender green tissues that grow laterally off older woody canes. Trimming and pruning encourages new bloom and a tidy-looking rose plant.

Refrain from pruning your climbing rose plant until it is at least 3 years old to allow the structural canes to develop and be trained out horizontally along the supporting trellis, fence or arbor. Bend the canes, weaving or fastening them to the support as they grow.

Deadhead spent rose blooms by trimming the wilted bloom and thin green stem down to the parent cane from which it emanates. Make the cut just 1/8 to 1/4 inch above the branch collar and discard the wilted flowers.

Trim sucker growth, weak or dead canes and decaying rose hips in winter when the rose is dormant. Cut these down to just above the crown or bud union of the rose plant. Reposition the remaining canes horizontally as possible and secure them back to the support structure.

Prune once-blooming climbing roses immediately after flowering in the summer. Cut down several of the oldest canes down to the crown or up to 2 feet above the crown of the plant and discard them. Reposition the remaining canes as horizontally as possible and secure them.

Prune repeat blooming climbers in the winter or early spring during dormancy. Cut down all of the blooming lateral canes down to just two or three buds or leaf axils. Place the cut on the bias and at least 1/4 inch above the third bud or leaf axil.


Things You Will Need

  • Secateurs
  • Long-handled loppers