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Establishing a Wall Full of Roses

Last year I planted a number of roses and put in four rows of horizontal support wires across my south facing fence.  Towards the end of the season I had a number of canes, some of which I cut and some which I have loosely tied to the support wires.  I am not sure what to do at the moment - cut it back more or leave it and see what happens next spring/summer.  I am new to this and seen on youtube drastic cutting back that leads to nice results but as these only started growing last summer I'm not sure what to do.  Cut it all back again (how much?) or leave it and in the spring cut back just the verticals growing from the horizontals?  Thank you.

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  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,526
    Hi quarkrad,

    Well you are doing all the right things there in arching and training the long main canes sprouting from the base to near horizontal. Those ones you don’t want to be cutting back as they form the main framework from which the lateral flowering shoots grow - the latter are the ones growing vertically up from the long arching canes on the central rose.

    You can cut back the laterals to about 4-6” or to one or two bud eyes - if you trace you finger up from where they shoot up, you will feel and see the knobbly bits, which are the dormant bud eyes that will shoot and flower next year.

    Alternatively, if you are lacking a bit of coverage, those lateral shoots can also be bent over to fill gaps, basically treating them the same as the main canes and then they become part of the framework and themselves will then send up flowering lateral shoots - so you basically turn a lateral into a main cane.

    Take this lateral circled, for example, you can either cut it back as described, or you could bend it over and tie it in and that will give you more rose blooms:



    Growing climbing roses is more about training - which you are doing really well - rather than severe pruning because you need a semi-permanent framework of main canes in place to carry the flowering laterals.

    I say semi-permanent because new, vigorous canes will hopefully continue to sprout from the base (called basal growth) and eventually you might want to cut older, less productive canes right out. You are a way off doing that though, most climbing roses take around 3 years to fully establish and properly fill out. Some are just faster than others to develop, like the one on the left of your photo, but that’s normal.

    Hope that helps 😊 
  • Brilliant - thank you. I was not sure about the bending of a lateral to form another (main cane) on a higher supporting wire.
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