How To Prune Climbing Roses

William Baffin climbing rose
© LapaiIrKrapai/

Written by Em Casalena

Updated: August 23, 2023

Share on:


Possibly the most crucial task you can perform for your climbing roses is pruning. It provides your rose with structure and shape and promotes fresh blooms for the next season. 

While climbing roses and hybrid teas or floribundas share many pruning guidelines, there are a few exceptions. Directly out from the base grow the primary canes and the lateral canes that bear the climbing rose’s blooms. Climbers don’t need to be shaped in such a way that pruning to outward-facing buds is essential. So, pruning climbing roses specifically tends to be a bit more simple.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about pruning climbing roses for the best possible chances of success.

 When to Prune Climbing Roses

Climbing roses must be pruned often to stay healthy, vigorous, and aesthetically pleasing. There are broad principles to follow when selecting when to trim these lovely climbers, even if the actual date might vary based on the region and particular rose species.

Late winter or early spring, just before new growth starts, is often the optimum time to prune climbing roses. Since the roses are not actively developing at this time, it is sometimes referred to as the dormant season. During this period, pruning enables the plants to focus their energy on developing fresh shoots and blossoms rather than maintaining their current foliage.

Young red rose buds of climbing rose bush climb up homemade cedar trellis in front of beige siding of single family home

Climbing roses (pictured) benefit from late winter or early spring pruning.

© Taylor

Prune During the Dormant Season

Climbing roses are generally barren during the dormant season, which makes it simpler to evaluate the plant’s general structure. It is the perfect time to get rid of any canes that are crossing or rubbing as well as any dead, broken, or weak branches. This enhances ventilation and guards against illness and insect problems. Furthermore, reducing excessive growth stimulates new shoots to appear from the plant’s base, encouraging a more even and robust growth habit.

It’s vital to remember that not all climbing roses need significant trimming every year. Some cultivars, particularly once-blooming climbers, blossom on old wood, thus they should only be clipped after they have completed blooming. Following their flowering season, which is often in late spring or early summer, these roses should be clipped right away.

To out it simply, the dormant period in late winter or early spring is the ideal time to trim climbing roses. When figuring out the precise period, it’s crucial to take the unique rose type, blooming behaviors, and local temperature into account. Regular trimming encourages climbing roses to become stronger and more prolific, ensuring their continued attractiveness in your garden or indoors.

How to Prep Climbing Roses for Pruning

To guarantee a productive and successful pruning session, it is crucial to prepare climbing roses for pruning or trimming. You can simplify the process and promote the health of your climbing roses by adhering to a few essential procedures. The following recommendations will help you prepare climbing roses for pruning or trimming.

Get Your Tools

The tools you’ll need for the work should be gathered before you start. These frequently include gardening gloves, precise pruning shears or loppers, and perhaps a pruning saw for heavier branches. To make precise cuts and reduce plant damage, it’s crucial to make sure your instruments are clean and properly sharpened. A little bottle of rubbing alcohol with a cotton pad can ensure your instruments are clean, but make sure the alcohol evaporates entirely before pruning.

Eyeball Your Climbing Rose’s Structure

Pay special attention to your climbing rose plant and assess its general structure. Determine any branches that are weak, damaged, or dead that need to be cut down. Look for branches that are touching or crossing each other since they might restrict airflow and lead to possible injury. Consider the plant’s size and shape before deciding whether you want to keep it in its current shape or alter it.

Plan How You Will Prune

Decide on your pruning strategy based on your assessment of your plant. Decide how much pruning is necessary and whether you should concentrate on removing dead wood, reshaping the plant, or shrinking its size. In order to encourage new development, it is often advised to remove roughly one-third of the plant’s growth during pruning.

Clear Any Debris From Around the Plant

Remove any obstructions from the area around the plant. Remove any plants or garden accessories that may be in the way of the climbing rose. This will clear the area for work and stop accidents or damage to nearby objects during trimming.

Put on Gardening Gloves for Protection

Put on gardening gloves to protect both you and the plant from thorns and other possible irritants. If necessary, think about donning long sleeves and pants for further security. Also, while trimming, take care not to harm or break the thorny canes of the rose.

Starting from this point, you can start pruning! Do not forget to properly dispose of the clipped debris, either by composting it or by following municipal regulations. You may encourage healthier development, boost aesthetics, and increase the general vitality of your climbing rose plants by preparing your climbing roses for pruning or trimming and using the right pruning steps.

How to Prune Climbing Roses

Climbing roses need to be pruned often to keep them healthy, in good form, and able to bloom. A well-structured plant will develop quickly, produce many flowers, and benefit from proper trimming strategies.


Climbing roses should be pruned at the beginning of new growth, in late winter or early spring. The plant may concentrate its efforts on developing new branches and blossoms rather than maintaining current leaves when pruning during the dormant season. However, once they complete blooming, certain climbing roses, especially those that bloom just once, need to be clipped.

Examine the Plant

As mentioned earlier, you should take a thorough look at your climbing rose plant before you begin cutting. Determine any wood that is sick, damaged, or dead that has to be removed. Look for branches that are touching or crossing each other since they might restrict airflow and lead to possible injury. Decide whether you want to keep the plant in its existing shape or alter it after assessing the plant’s overall size and shape.

Make precise cuts

To make precise cuts, use loppers or sharp bypass pruners. It’s crucial to make the incisions directly above a bud or node that faces outward. To avoid water building up on the cut surface, slightly angulate the incision away from the bud. Clean cuts help the body recover and reduce the danger of infection.

Eliminate Dead Wood

Remove any damaged, diseased, or dead wood first. Just above a bud or node, cut back to healthy wood. Eliminating dead wood enhances plant health in general and aids in the control of disease.

Thin Out the Canes

Next, untangle any knotted or congested canes. Eliminate weaker or smaller canes to increase airflow and shield people from illness. To keep the plant well-structured, keep the stronger, healthier canes.

Height and Size Reduction

You can deliberately prune long, straggly canes to lessen the height and size of a climbing rose if it has become excessively tall or broad. Make sure to cut these canes slightly above an outward-facing bloom when trimming them to the proper height.

Tie Back Canes Onto Structures to Enhance Their Shape

Take into account the climbing rose’s preferred form and growth pattern as you prune. Tie the remaining canes to structures like trellises, fences, or walls if required. This will direct their development and aid in preserving the ideal structure and form.

Yellow climbing roses covering a brown trellis in a garden

Climbing roses (pictured) benefit greatly from being tied to trellises and similar structures.


Pruning Repeat Bloomers

It’s often better to use a maintenance pruning strategy for climbing roses that bloom consistently throughout the growing season, such as hybrid teas or floribundas. This entails maintaining a balanced framework and removing dead, damaged, or weak timber as necessary.

Pruning Non-Repeat Bloomers

It’s crucial to trim once-blooming climbing roses, such as old garden roses or specific climbers, as soon as their flowering cycle is over. This enables the plant to establish buds on the growth from this season in preparation for blooming next year. To maintain healthy wood right above a bud, prune the spent blooming canes.

Maintenance and Cleanup

Remove any debris or cut material from the area surrounding the climbing rose after trimming. Use the right disposal methods, such as composting or according to local regulations. Keep an eye on your climbing rose during the growing season to see if any extra pruning, such as removing dead or diseased wood, is necessary.

Following these instructions and employing the right pruning methods can help to encourage healthy development, improve the shape and structure of your climbing roses, and guarantee a stunning flower show!

Tips and Tricks for Caring for Pruned Climbing Roses

To preserve your climbing roses’ sustained health, form, and flowering potential, it’s crucial to manage them properly after pruning. Consider some of these pointers and techniques for caring for trimmed climbing roses.

For climbing roses to be healthy, adequate hydration is a must. Make sure the plants get regular watering, especially during dry spells. Avoid overwatering and water thoroughly to prevent root rot. To feed water straight to the roots while keeping the leaves dry, think about utilizing a drip irrigation system or soaker hoses.

To give your climbing roses the nutrition they need for strong growth and lots of blooms, feed them frequently with a balanced rose fertilizer. Regarding application rates and time, according to the directions on the fertilizer package. To prevent excessive leaf development at the price of blossoms, avoid overfertilizing.

Training, Tying, and Maintenence Pruning

As your climbing roses mature, keep training and tying the canes. To direct their development and preserve the correct shape and structure, fasten the canes to supports like trellises, fences, or walls. Check the knots frequently to make sure they’re not overly tight or harming the canes.

Keep an eye out for any suckers that may appear from the plant’s base or below the graft union on the climbing roses. Suckers are active shoots that emerge from the rootstock and need to be removed right away. To stop them from stealing energy from the main plant, cut them off at the base.

Deadheading is a common way to get rid of wasted flowers. In order to do this, the fading blossoms should be removed slightly above a healthy set of leaves or an outward-facing bud. By refocusing the plant’s energy towards new growth and blossoms in the future, deadheading encourages continued flowering.

Give your climbing roses enough winter protection, especially in colder locations. Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the plants before the first frost to protect the roots. To preserve the canes from the hard winter weather, think about wrapping them in burlap or other protective covers.

Finally, savor the splendor and aroma of your climbing roses! Keep a regular eye on them to enjoy their development and flowers. Share your gardening achievement with others by taking pictures. With these tips and our in-depth guide, you’ll be able to keep your climbing roses looking beautiful all year long!

Share this post on:
About the Author

Em Casalena is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on plants, gardening, and sustainability. Em has been writing and researching about plants for nearly a decade and is a proud Southwest Institute of Healing Arts graduate and certified Urban Farming instructor. Em is a resident of Arizona and enjoys learning about eco-conscious living, thrifting at local shops, and caring for their Siamese cat Vladimir.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.