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Pruning Of Climbing Roses - Claymores And Ramblers

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In the care of roses, timely pruning is a key point. The well-loved climbing roses, irreplaceable vertical accents in any garden, are no exception. But, as with lianas in general, the climbing rose is relatively easy to cut. Keeping the bush optimally dense, stimulating the growth of replacement shoots in combination with the usual sanitary pruning - these measures guarantee both health and beautiful flowering of the climbing roses.

Pruning of climbing roses - claymores and ramblers
Belvedere climbing rose. © David Austin Roses


  • Basic differences between clusters and ramblers
  • Properties of pruning of pleated roses
  • Spring pruning of pleated roses
  • Summer pruning of pleated roses
  • Fall pruning of pleated roses
  • Removal of wilting inflorescences of pleated
  • Trimming on misshapen and directional roses
  • Care after pruning

Main differences between climbers and ramblers

The climbing rose is the most common type of garden vines and one of the favorite varieties of roses. Their unusually luxuriant blossoms, large size, and ease of cultivation compared to bush and park roses make climbing princesses landscape design favorites as much as the availability of countless ways to use them.

The climbing rose is a conventional unifying name for all roses with stemmed, arching or whip-shaped shoots, single or double long blossoms. Flowers can be singular or in clusters. In rambler roses, they are formed along the whole length, in the middle and upper parts or on the tops of shoots in very large numbers.

But the main uniting feature, besides the form of growth, is flowering on shoots of last year's growth of the first or second order. The quality and characteristics of the flowering roses are not homogeneous. Determining the type or subspecies of the wallflower rose is the key not only to the success of the rose, but also to its maximum ornamental value. But when it comes to selecting plants, one is faced with much more confusing classifications. Large, medium and small, climbing, semi climbing, true climbing, Cordes, large-flowered - it is not easy to choose your ideal climbing rose from among all the not quite formal and often similar categories.

But in practical terms, it is not necessary to single out the type of climbing rose for optimum care: From pruning to watering, all climbing roses are strikingly similar to each other in care. They all need virtually the same care, regardless of flower size or branch length or type. The only thing you need to know is whether your wallflower can bloom only on last year's shoots (most Ramblers) or also on new shoots (mostly claymores). One-flowering climbing rose bushes should be formed so that they consist of 6-10 shoots: 3-5 one-year replacement branches and 3-5 two-year shoots that will flower in the current year. The main formation of these plants is carried out in summer.

Retroflowering roses are much more complicated in their structure and character. They do not stop flowering until the fifth year, and flower on branches of the second, third, fourth or even fifth order, which are formed on the main shoots. These roses do not need annual removal of the basal branches, letting the main shoots develop for three years and removing them to the ground only after the fourth year.

Re-blooming roses are formed so that the bush has 3 to 7 main flowering shoots and annual growth of 1 to 3 annual branches intended for their replacement in the future. The main pruning of semi-flowering roses is always done in spring.

There is a general rule that helps to avoid confusion over types of climbing roses and always regulate the number of shoots: In spring or summer pruning, only remove as many old shoots from climbing roses as there are new shoots at the base of the bush. This rule applies when there is any doubt as to the proper degree of pruning.

Pruning of climbing roses - claymores and ramblers
Trimming of climbing roses. © Dorling Kindersley

Properties of pruning of climbing roses

It is not for nothing that climbing roses are considered easier plants to grow than their shrubby competitors in flowerbeds, squares, lawns and hedges. In general, climbing roses are hardy and unpretentious and require very little care. They need only a few plentiful waterings, a minimum number of fertilizers, they grow fast and are easier to cover for the winter (in terms of technique, not labor intensity) than shrub garden queens. But the main difference in care is in pruning, which is difficult for an inexperienced gardener to get mixed up in.

Trimming of climbing roses is not a difficult task. Despite some differences between the individual characteristics of each individual rose and the shape and type of shoots, they are always cut according to the same principles. As with any rose, pruning on the Pleated Princesses is the key to a lush and beautiful flowering. But the main aim of pruning of

  • creation of qualitative skeleton base;
  • removal of unproductive shoots;
  • measures for stimulation of growth of substitute branches;
  • sanitary pruning;
  • removal of fading flowers.

Roses rejuvenate themselves by producing young shoots that eventually replace the old ones. Easy help from the gardener - regular removal of the oldest branches - allows them to keep their beauties in perfect condition at all times. It is to the regrowth and development of vegetative shoots, substitute branches in the upper branches and pay increased attention: Pleated roses flower on the previous year's growth, and getting strong substitute shoots that can bloom in the future should be the main goal of pruning and guiding of pleated roses.

The general rules of pruning all roses without exception should not be forgotten in any pruning procedures on plethora roses:

  • Cut only with sharp and clean tools and "smoothly" - without cracks, splits, tears, torn wood or tissue;
  • cuts should be made at a 45 degree angle and so that the cut goes down from the bud (water should not run off and linger on the bud);
  • when selecting the "point" of pruning, focus on well developed buds located not on the inner, but on the outer side of the shoot, so that new branches were oriented outward, not in the center of the bush;
  • When pruning a shoot, make sure that 5 to 8 mm of the stem remains above the developed bud, and if pruning is sanitary, make sure that the shoot is cut to healthy wood (weak, thin, unproductive, crossed, growing inside branches are cut to the base or soil level);
  • Leave only one shoot from each bud, removing unnecessary branches growing from the same bud;
  • on the bushes of even the largest rambling roses must be maintained such a base and the number of shoots, which guarantee good ventilation and uniform illumination of the crown (density and coverage of the supports provide the competent distribution and direction of the branches, but not their great number);
  • all cuts on roses should be treated with garden varnish or similar protective means.

Tools for pruning of climbing roses should be chosen carefully. It is possible to cope with simple pruning shears, but far better suited for the work:

  • special saw;
  • trimmer or shrub trimmer with an extended handle.

In practical terms, pruning on climbing roses is conveniently divided into three stages:

  1. Spring basic pruning.
  2. Summer pruning.
  3. Autumn pruning.

Trimming at planting is almost not necessary for climbing roses. Plants only have dry or damaged shoots removed if necessary, as well as any very weak stems. In August or September of the first year, the branches of the lapwing roses are pruned to improve their ripening. Minimal sanitary cleaning will also be required during the first two years. Heavy pruning at this time is especially dangerous for semi-bush roses, which may regain their bushy shape. With age, after the formation of a good "framework", rejuvenating measures are added to the sanitary pruning - the number of shoots is regulated and the oldest of them are removed.

Pruning of climbing roses - claymores and ramblers
Tool necessary for the pruning of climbing roses. © Glory Garden

Spring pruning of climbing roses

Springing of climbing roses is done as soon as the main cover is removed, before the buds begin to awaken and the leaves unfurl. As with all roses, spring pruning is considered the main pruning in the plethora of roses. After winter, plants need not only cleaning, inspection, sanitary procedures, but also measures to stimulate growth and rejuvenation, regulation of the bush. True, as such, formative pruning in plethora roses is very conditional. In the top climbing roses in spring there is sanitary cleaning and shortening of thin shoots to stimulate growth.

Spring pruning on the climbing roses includes two types of procedures:

  1. Measures aimed at cleaning and thinning.
  2. Shortening of shoots and stimulating growth.

It is always worth starting with cleaning of bushes. After removing the covers and unwrapping the shoots, plants should be carefully inspected, to assess the condition of the bushes. In the whittled roses, all damaged, sick, dry, too weak and thin shoots - all non-productive branches - should be immediately removed to the base or healthy tissues.

The shortening of shoots on whittled roses is called conditional because this procedure only activates the growth of substitute young branches. For successful flowering in climbers, it is necessary to save as much of the last year's branches as possible, so it is necessary to lightly shorten the tips to the first strong bud. For large-flowered and mid- and upper-flowered climbing roses of the Multiflora group and Vichurian hybrids, you can cut back not only to the first bud, but also according to the support, the size of the rose and the desired shape. Side branches can be cut back even to 2/3 of the height of the support or to the size of the bush if the rose exceeds the size allowed and the height needs to be controlled. On a bush, leave 3 to 7 strongest main shoots - the strongest, longest and youngest branches, removing old shoots older than 4 years, and if the crown is too dense, the weakest branches. The oldest twigs are always cut off at the weft, at the very surface of the soil. They are usually recognized by their thickening and lack of flowering. If there are not enough new shoots to replace them, the old branches are cut back to a height of 40 cm to encourage growth in the following year. The same cutting of the main branches helps to make a free-growing rambler more compact and, if all the stems are cut, dramatically rejuvenates neglected climbing roses. But it is better to stretch rejuvenation over several stages.

Spring pruning has another very important final stage - straightening and guiding. Roses are not immediately tied to a support, but only when the young replacement shoots have grown up. After the roses have passed the main spring procedures, strong, healthy and shortened to the first bud, the shoots should be spread on the ground, laid horizontally. They are not lifted onto supports until the replacement shoots are actively growing from the base and reach a half-meter or slightly longer length. As soon as the replacement branches have grown, the old shoots (the main ones to flower) are directed to the support.

The spring pruning is completed by directing the stems to the support.

The direction of growth of climbing roses

To get a lush, revealing all its decorative climbing rose, you must not only properly prune, but also properly direct the shoots to the support. Even if the rose is planted near a pergola or obelisk post, a column or other elongated vertical, we are talking about a rose with stiff branches, it is the direction that ensures that over time you will not have a bare and sloppy bush blooming only at the very top.

The branches of the lapwing roses are directed not vertically, but horizontally or as close to horizontal as possible, thereby reducing both the natural tendency of lapwing plants to grow only upwards, and encouraging the emergence of young second-order branches growing on the horizontal main shoots. In flat supports, the main shoots are tied horizontally or obliquely along the support or netting, and where the rose grows on a narrow vertical support, the branches are directed obliquely, twisted, wavy or spirally around the support. Due to the horizontal or almost horizontal direction of the main shoots, fewer branches will be needed to achieve the same decorative effect, the crown can be left more sparse, which will improve the situation of access to fresh air and reduce the risk of spreading diseases.

Pruning of climbing roses - claymores and ramblers
The direction of growth of climbing roses along the fence. © Barhi

Summer pruning of climbing roses

The pruning required by climbing roses in summer serves one and only one purpose: to control flowering. It can be rightly called a regulation cutting, because in mono-flowering roses it guarantees the normal development of replacement branches, and in repeated flowering roses it guarantees the quality of the second flowering wave.

The basic pruning of mono-flowering climbing roses is not done in spring, but after flowering. You should start by freeing the bush from old shoots, which will replace the young shoots of regeneration and replacement. Usually, one-time roses form 3 to 10 replacement branches that will bloom next year. The basal blossomed shoots are removed to the base, treating the cuts with horticultural varnish or other protective agents. And of the young branches, leave those intended to flower next year, a "framework" of the strongest and actively growing shoots. If there are not enough young shoots and growth is poor, old shoots should not be shortened to the base, but to 30-40 cm.

In repeat flowering roses, summer pruning is much easier. It (and the pruning of the remaining shoots in mono-flowering roses) is carried out by removing the parts of the blossom up to the first full leaf (penta-leaf) on top of the shoot. Without timely removal of the blossom parts, the development of new growth on roses is delayed for several weeks. This not only affects the flowering in the next year, it virtually eliminates the chance of seeing even a scarce second wave in re-blooming roses.

Lateral shoots of all roses are cut by 2-3 buds.

If any climbing roses have insufficient development of young shoots by the middle of summer, their growth is further stimulated by laying young branches horizontally or by dipping them to a height of 30-40 cm for active growth.

If the climbing rose has been grafted or formed into a bole, the summer pruning also includes regular inspections of the plant for signs of wild growth, which should be removed in a timely manner.

Pruning of climbing roses - claymores and ramblers
Summer pruning of climbing roses. © Dan Gill

Fall Pruning of Pleated Roses

Fall pruning as such is not pruning. It is a general preparation for the winter and a hygienic procedure necessary for climbers to have a successful overwintering under cover and to keep the full length of the branches on which next year the luxurious inflorescences will bloom.

All autumn procedures are reduced to the removal of sick, damaged or immature twigs - everything "superfluous", and to the clearing of the bush of unproductive or health-threatening shoots. In early fall or late summer, it is better to prune all growing shoots to speed up their maturation. In October, in addition to sanitary pruning, shorten the young shoots to the old wood.

Removal of fading inflorescences in climbing roses

Unlike any other rose, the timely removal of fading flowers and prevention of fructification is the main guarantee for a long and lush flowering period for the Klymer or Rambler.

Waiting until the flowers are completely faded is not a good idea, as new shoots developing from replacement buds will be fragile and thin. It is best to remove flowers from any rose before the petals have completely fallen off or dried out. Do not cut the blossoms off at the base, but leave a short, up to 1 cm stump above the eye. If a plethora has flowers in dense inflorescences, the entire inflorescence should be cut off after the last flower begins to fade.

All flowers and inflorescences removed from plethora roses, as well as the faded parts of the stems of heavily flowered roses, should be destroyed.

Trimming on improperly shaped and directed roses

If, as a result of inattention or lack of knowledge, a claymere or other climbing rose has gone wild, been directed incorrectly along the support, the branches are not tied horizontally or curved, but strictly up, resulting in flowers blooming only at the top and the plant not looking lush and spectacular on the whole crown, pruning to restore is done in spring and more drastically.

Start the pruning procedure by removing all unproductive branches, damaged and dry shoots, the oldest branches. The remaining healthy shoots that can no longer be directed correctly along the support, are cut off by half to cause active growth of young substitute branches. After a net or other guide to which the rose can be redirected is put in place, the shoots are tied back as recommended for all climbing roses - horizontally or almost horizontally. Additional watering during droughts helps to stimulate the growth and development of the young branches.