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How to: prune climbing roses

The first thing to know about pruning climbing roses is not to do it in winter when you do your other roses.

If you do you’ll inadvertently cut off all this year’s flowers! Instead, wait until after they flower in spring. Follow our tips for brilliant results.


Don't prune them in winter!


Grow sideways

The secret to success is to train and prune the rose so as to encourage side shoots, called laterals, as these are the shoots that produce flowers. To do this, train the main canes of the rose horizontally or diagonally rather than straight up their support. The more horizontal the main cane, the more laterals - and hence more flowers - the rose will produce. This creates more of a spiral effect around a column or tripod and more of a ladder effect or open fan on a wall. As you are training your rose, feel free to remove wayward growth whenever necessary to maintain the form of the plant.


Go slowly

Hold off pruning climbing roses for a few years after planting. Instead allow the plants to get into a rhythm of flowering. Observe this pattern and get to know your rose. After a few years, and after spring flowering, prune the laterals (these are the small side-stems that flower) back to a solid framework.



Every few years remove the oldest cane at the base and allow a new water shoot to replace it. Because it’s important to renew the plant like this, it’s best to tie or clip the canes to the support, rather than weave them in: tied canes are easier to remove than woven ones.


Prune them after spring flowering has finished.


About this article

Author: Robin Powell