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Hard prune climbing rose


I have this lovely, mature, repeat flowering climber rose planted on the south-facing wall. Unfortunately it hasn't been trained so has a tall single stem and only blooms at the first floor level.

Will it survive if I prune it right back down to about a foot in height in Jan/Feb so that I can get some lower laterals?

The red, velvety blooms are beautiful and I really don't want to kill it! I took some cuttings in the summer as insurance.



  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,699

    How mature is it? The base of the main stem looks very thin and extremely close to the wall. Not always ideal for your rose. It needs space for the roots to grow, and water to get to it.

    If it's a healthy young rose, and the main stem still supple. Try to see if you can contort it to an angle going horizontal. Usually, this encourages shoots to grow upwards once settled.

    If you want to keep it straight, just prune off the branches from the two that starts shooting upwards and then start training them sideways once they start growing. Don't leave them to grow, or they'll just grow upwards like what has happened.

    The other radical method is to prune right down to the base and see if it shoots multiple stems. I can't see the base to know what it looks like. If it's quite strong and thick at the base, new shoots can start from there once you cut very low down, and you will hopefully have new stems coming from the base.

  • Thanks for the helpful response.

    It was the radical method I had in mind but I'm not sure how much of a risk it is. How hard is it to kill a rose?

    I think it is fairly old, the main stem is definitely too woody to bend and has a circumference of about 1/1.5 inches. We've only been here 3 years but there are other well established roses that I think were planted about 30+ years ago.

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,699

    No problem, in that case, just prune down the main stem. You don't have to prune right down, it could be a foot to 2 ft. Hopefully, next spring you will see new growth. The key is to make sure you start tying the stems when you see them grow. Sometimes, it can put on growth very quickly so, you need to be ready with wires etc.

    Being it is the first year with training, you will need to be careful where you train the growth. After that, you will have build up a framework on where you will just tidy away every year any stray and weak growth.

  • Great, thank you. I think I'll be bold and give it a go, especially as the cuttings look like they are starting to bud. 

  • Nicola149Nicola149 Posts: 17
    It's been a long time but I thought I'd add an update. I plucked up the courage to chop the rose back to 2ft in Jan this year and mulched it well with manure and straw. 

    Delighted to say it's responding well. This photo is from late May. :-) 

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,721
    Thank you for updating us. I'm glad your rose is doing well.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Big Blue SkyBig Blue Sky Posts: 689
    It’s always so nice to see updates on questions and projects posted on the forum, thank you @Nicola149
    Glad your rose is doing so well 😊
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,180
    That looks so much better @Nicola149. Well done.  If you want even more shoots, try to keep some stems tied in horizontally. They should then shoot new stems going upwards all along which hopefully flower in due course. 
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • Nicola149Nicola149 Posts: 17
    Thanks Lizzie. I was wondering how I train it now. The lower section of the wall is narrow and the upper section not that wide either so do I aim for long stems curving backwards and forwards in an 'S' shape up the wall or prune so that each change of direction is a new shoot?

    Also, will it be ok for the stems to cross if they are securely tied to minimise rubbing?
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