Pruning climbing rose trees

Rose trees climbing along a latticed wall undergoing pruning

Climbing rose trees are special and you can’t prune them like you would conventional rose trees.

The pruning of a climbing rose tree must help the rose bush climb further on its support structure, while maximizing blooming.

Note, though, that such pruning should only be performed on specimens at least 3 years old.

Pruning climbing rose trees

Repeat-blooming climbing rose trees, those that bloom several times a year, require pruning in February or March.

  • At the end of winter and when freezing is over, prune short sprigs along the main climbing branch, so that they form a shape like a fishbone.
  • Begin with eliminating dead wood that has dried up.
  • Remove the oldest branches, the “old wood”. Don’t be afraid of removing these branches, because once they’re gone, young stems become more vigorous and bear more flowers.
  • Finally, the pruning itself: keep 5 or 6 of the most vigorous branches and prune side shoots to more or less 3 buds. This means pruning every single side shoot to around 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) from their base on the main stem (the “fishbone”).
  • Those main branches will form the structure of the bush.

As for once-blooming rose trees, which only flower a single time in the year, follow these same steps but only after the blooming.

Here is a video with advice on how to prune a climbing rose tree

See also:

Smart tip about climbing rose trees

In summer, you can go on “cleaning up” your rose tree, removing twigs and other dead branches that are useless to the shrub’s development.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Climbing rose with secateur (also on social media) by Nature & Garden, own work