Climbing roses: Prune now to avoid ‘jumbled mass’ of weak flowers – how to guide

Carol Klein explains the importance of judicious pruning

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Although the winter months sees garden growth slow down, there are still plenty of jobs for gardeners to be doing, including pruning climbing roses. According to Gardeners’ World, if climbing roses are not pruned, they can end up in a “jumbled mass”.

Climbing roses are beautiful and often fragrant plants that can be grown up walls, arches or the side of the home.

They differ from rambler roses in their size, but both make great garden plants.

According to Gardeners’ World, the time to prune climbing roses is through winter, while the rose is dormant.

The aim of the job is to selectively remove plant parts, whether that be branches, buds, or spent flowers.

Rose pruning will help to ensure that the plant grows and flowers well each year.

Although considered to be complicated, pruning is very simple.

Gardeners’ World said: “Climbing roses should be pruned in winter. Most roses should be pruned in winter, the only exception is rambling roses, which should be pruned immediately after flowering.

“If you don’t prune your climbing rose it’s not the end of the world. However, you’re likely to end up with a jumbled mass of weak, twiggy stems, which can dominate at the expense of flower production.

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“What’s more, crossing stems can cause dieback and lead to disease, making your climbing rose more susceptible to fungal infections.”

To prune a climbing rose, gardeners will need two tools including a pair of secateurs and long-handled loppers.

When it comes to pruning, Gardeners’ World said to leave the main framework of the stems unpruned and simply prune the side shoots to four healthy buds.

They added: “When pruning climbing roses, cut just above a bud that points in the direction you want a new stem to grow.

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“Avoid cutting above a bud that will direct growth to the garden path, for example.”

After pruning, tie the stems of your climbing rose to its support, this will help it as it heads into the growing season.

These types of roses need pruning when they are not in flower, so gardeners are able to see more easily what they are doing.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) it is also recommended in winter because there is a better response from the rose, allowing it to grow back vigorously in the spring.

Roses can suffer a range of common problems including replant disease, rose dieback, rose black spot, rose powdery mildew, rose ruse and rose aphids.

Lack of flowering is also another common issue with roses.

The RHS said: “Where rose blindness is a problem, cut a blind shoot back by half to a strong bud to stimulate further growth. This should produce flowers later in the season.

“Remove a proportion of older wood to encourage new growth, leading to better flowering. This is ideally done with annual pruning, often in winter.”

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