Pruning Climbing Roses

Pruning Climbing Roses

This need present no difficulty, although it is true it seems to puzzle many rose growers of some years’ standing. But, as a rule, where they err is not in pruning the plants insufficiently, but in pruning them too much. While systematic and regular pruning is good for the dwarf roses, climbing varieties, as a rule, are all the better for light pruning. The best blooms of a climbing rose are produced by one-year-old growths and, theoretically, the shoots that have bloomed should be cut out as soon as the flowers are over, so that fresh growths may be encouraged to take their places. This is certainly correct advice, but some sorts are so accommodating that the removal of the older growths may often be dispensed with. They are found among the wichuraiana varieties. These bloom so freely, even from the side shoots that form on the two- and three-year-old stems, that it is a pity to cut them out as long as there is room for them. Of course, preference is always given to the youngest, and it is unwise to crowd the growths together, or in aiming at getting a superabundance of blossom the grower may find that unhappily he obtains none at all worth having. Thus, while liberties may be taken with the Dorothy Perkins class of rose that would lead to disappointment with other kinds, it should not be forgotten that no rose will bloom well if its growths have not a fair share of sunshine and fresh air. Here are the names of a few that may be neglected for two or three years so far as pruning is concerned and be none the worse for it, and in the garden of the inexperienced grower they may conceivably be all the better:-Dorothy Perkins and its first cousin, if not its sister, Lady Gay, Auguste Barbier, Alberic Barbier, Tausendschon, Minnehaha, Hiawatha, White Dorothy Perkins, Jersey Beauty, Elisa Robinson, Gardenia, Lady Godiva, Joseph Billard, and Edmond Proust.

Climbing roses belonging to the multiflora class, of which Crimson Rambler is a type,- are not to be treated so cavalierly in the matter of pruning. There is a great difference in the quality of the blooms produced by one-year-old growths and those of greater age. The shoots of the previous year’s growth yield fine flower bunches direct from the main stem, but all other growths bloom only from comparatively weak side shoots, and their flowers are  not to be compared with those from younger stems. It is thus not wise to take liberties with Crimson Rambler and its near relations, or they will retaliate by rewarding the gardener in negative fashion in the matter of blossom. Let me name a few of these near relatives so that the reader may be forewarned, and treat them with the respect that they at any rate seem to think is their due. Some of the most familiar are Aglaia, Blush Rambler, Crimson Rambler, Electra, H61&e, Leuchtstern, Mrs. Flight, Philadelphia Rambler, Psyche, Rubin, and Waltham Rambler. ” Cut out the old, train in the new ” should be the grower’s motto in dealing with these.


I must just say a word about the pruning of the Noisette roses, for they need considering separately, and among them are such favorites as William Allen Richardson and Reve d’Or. They are not so adept at producing fresh vigorous shoots from the base of the plant as varieties of the two classes just mentioned, and therefore the older shoots must be treated with greater consideration than usual, since when there are few to replace them we must needs make the best of those we have. As a rule, if, well planted and hard pruned the spring following planting they grow vigorously enough for the first two or three years ; afterwards an opportunity is usually offered to the practiced pruner to give proof of his skill. This he will do by bending down some of the strong growths that have assumed a perpendicular position, by shortening others to within a few inches of the ground, and by seeing that all shoots are spread out as much as possible. Everyone must have noticed that all plants grown against walls (and it is often as wall roses that the Noise varieties are valuable) show most vigor at the top.. If this state of things is allowed to become too pronounced it must ultimately mean that the base of the plant gets bare. Noise roses other than those I have mentioned are found in Celine Forestier, Marechal Niel, Fortune’s Yellow, Lamarque (all needing the shelter of a warm wall facing south), Alister Stella Oray, and C. Kuster. So much, then, for pruning the roses that are commonly grown. What I have not made plain I hope the accompanying sketches will do. I am trusting to them to make up for my shortcomings in description. There is really not very much to say in respect of the other classes of roses that are comparatively rarely grown that would interest the average amateur. They nearly all need similar treatment, which is, that you cut out some of the older growths occasionally in late summer when the plants have done flowering, and at the spring pruning, which is practiced in late March, you cut back about half-way each remaining shoot.

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