Gardening courses 2024

Pruning Climbing Roses

Spring is almost here and signs of new growth are everywhere, so whilst the sun is shining, get some fresh air and finish off  pruning your climbing roses.

To get the best out of your climbing roses, you need to prune out all unwanted growth, then train the remaining stems into their supports.

If you don’t train you climbers, they will grow as nature intended, and produce long leggy upright stems with flowers positioned only at the end of the stems. As gardeners, we need to trick climbers into  to producing flowers in many different places along the stem, so that our walls and fences are covered with flowers, rather than prickly stems.

To do this, we need to shift auxin (a type of hormone responsible for upright growth and flowering) away from the tips of the stems. We do this by bending the stem into a more horizontal position. This encourages the sort of growth which produces flowering along the whole length of the stem, rather than just at the tip.

The aim is to produce a framework which that looks like the picture below. However, when pruning roses that haven't been trained properly from the start we just have to do out best! 

pruning climbing roses.jpg

So presented with something that looks like this....where do we start?

climbing roses 1.jpg


Firstly, remove all unwanted growth, which includes:

  1. All dead, dying and diseased growth, cutting each stem right back to the base of the rose.
  2. All stems that are crossing other stems, as this causes rubbing and stem damage.
  3. Any spindly weak growth
  4. Growth that has outgrown the supporting frame, or is intruding into the space of other plants
  5. One or two of the very oldest stems. This will help to stimulate new growth from the base of the stem.


From the stems remaining, you need to decide which stems are best placed to tie into your supports, and these are the ones that you keep.  Fan these stems out, bend them horizontally, and tie them to the support. (See previous blog for details on supports).

To tie in a rose:

Using soft twine, first tie the twine around the rose stem, creating a figure of eight, then tie the twine to the support.

Tying soft shoot into training wire


The end result should look something like this:

 Rose pruning – the climbing ones | The Sproutling Writes

Once you have a vision of what you want to achieve, pruning and training roses is not difficult. Do wear gloves, and protect your eyes too, especially if you are having to look upwards to prune.