How to prune climbing roses? 5 ideas

How to prune climbing roses? 5 ideas

Knowing when and how to prune climbing roses is important if you want to have a thriving rose-blossom garden. Just like any other plant, climbing roses also have their own specific growth and well-being preferences. Especially when it comes to the best way and time to prune roses. That is because these pretty blooming climbers do require special pruning care and attention in order to develop healthily.


If you have a yard space with climbing roses or you are thinking of starting one, keep on reading. In this article, we will talk all about the details of the cutting process and help you learn when you should do pruning and how to prune roses for winter. Check our ideas for a perfect rose garden here.

More about prune roses

When should you prune roses?

When should I prune roses? This is probably one of the first questions every novice gardener asks themselves when they start caring for climbing roses. Even though the pruning process for climbers is slightly different than the pruning process for rose shrubs, the appropriate trim timing is almost the same.

The best period to do climbing rose maintenance is in late autumn and early spring. Pruning during that time is beneficial for climbing roses as they tend to grow more vigorously in springtime. 


The whole process is also easier since blooms have already faded out and branches are bare. That means the gardener has a clearer view of what they are doing and can accurately distinguish which shoots are healthy and which ones need a trim. 


Feel free to shorten whippy shoots in autumn before the strong winter winds take over. A light routine winter pruning between the months of December and February could also do wonders for your hardy climbing roses. 


But when is it too late to prune roses? In early winter.  This harsh and cold season is not very prune-friendly. So if you decide to go ahead and prune roses too early in winter, you will be basically torturing your plants by exposing them to frost damage. 


After pruning, the cuts are very fragile and delicate, so exposing them to extremely low temperatures is a red flag for your garden. Chances are, you will ruin next year’s blooming season, stun potential new growth and weaken your roses. 

How to prune climbing roses?

Now that we have covered when you should do the pruning, maybe we can pay attention to the other pressing question: ‘How to prune roses?’. After all, you cannot take good care of your plants if you are not aware of how to perform basic maintenance tasks like rose pruning. 

The knowledge of climbing roses pruning is crucial if you want your beautiful flowers to develop healthily and reach their potential. Even though they require a bit different treatment than shrub roses, encouraging fresh growth by pruning is not a hard task. Learn more in the next few paragraphs. 

Keep the main stems

Climbing roses are hardy greens. Pruning them is easy and seamless. There is not much you can do to harm the roses during the process, as long as you steer clear of the primary stems. These main stems are crucial to the plant height and the climbing qualities of your roses so you always have to be careful not to damage them.


Having all that in mind, the rule of the thumb when you prune roses is to keep the main stems intact. And fun fact, your roses only need 4 or 6 main canes to thrive and keep on climbing! 


So when you prune roses for winter, choose the toughest and healthiest ones to keep and prune out those growing in the wrong direction or those looking too weak or too thin, compared to the other canes. 


This selection is necessary because the main stems need to be strong and durable. Weaklings would not be able to carry flower weight during the summer blooming season. The same thing is valid for broken and old canes which you need to remove by cutting close to the base. 

Remove the side shoots

The main stems of climbing roses have many lateral branches (also called side shoots). Side shoots are what you actually need to focus on when pruning roses. 


To prune roses remove the side shoots by cutting close to the main cane. Leave about 5 cm to 8 cm growth to the stem, and make sure there are a couple of nodes left on each branch. In addition, you can do an aesthetic trim. Simply cut out the side shoots that seem to be extending in the wrong direction as well as those branches growing outwards. 


Upon climbing rose pruning, remember to remove the branch foliage, too. Make sure to collect the leaves separately and avoid composting them. Otherwise, you might unconsciously spread infestation or disease.

Don’t prune the climbing rose in the first year

We already discussed when should you prune roses and when is it too late to do it. But good prune timing is not all about the repetitive seasonal process. Let’s see what happens if you start pruning too early in the climbing roses’ development. 

In order to encourage strong shoots, the general rule when caring for roses is to prune them hard when while they are newly planted. However, this is not the case with climbing roses and they are an exception to that rule. In fact, pruning them in the first year may stun development and weaken the plants.


First-year roses could use light shaping sessions, but nothing too excessive or harsh. If you decide to make a light prune during their first year, climbing roses would start establishing strong roots. Regardless, don’t expect a sudden boost in stem and leaf growth because light trims are not as advantageous to the overall appearance of young climbers. 

Remove the dying branches

Naturally, the next vital step to follow when you decide to prune roses is to allocate damaged and dying branches. These shoots are only going to stun your plants’ development.


Cutting off dead, spindly, and diseased growth is very beneficial to climbing roses. Not only does it make way for new growth and encourages excessive flowering but also makes the blooming greens look lush and healthy. Let’s be honest, nothing makes a rose garden as presentable as the well-maintained rose plants.

Cut some old branches in the base to promote more growth 

Once you have removed the dying branches, it is time to pay attention to old healthy branches. Removing those at the base is a wonderful way to promote the growth of new branches where new fresh leaves and blooming flowers can start to develop. 

Did you learn how to prune roses as a gardening expert, yet? If the task seems too complicated, time-consuming, or overwhelming for you, worry not! We have a skilled team of professional gardeners that would gladly assist you with rose pruning, garden maintenance, and other gardening tasks in the London area.


Get in touch to get a quote and transform your home garden into a climbing rose paradise!

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