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Trimming a rose vine

By Al Cooke, Extension Agent
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006

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Pittsboro, NC - The first rule of pruning applies especially to roses, which have lots of disease potential: Remove anything that is Dead, Diseased, or Damaged - the 3 Ds. Look for dark or sunken areas on the stem as evidence of canker that needs to be removed. This part of pruning can be done anytime. If necessary, you can prune pretty severely and expect regrowth if the plant is in reasonably good health. For big overgrown roses, this may be the easiest strategy. For early bloomers, it may also sacrifice a season of bloom.

Annual pruning to shape and control your climbing vine should be timed with swelling buds on the stem. That should be happening now or soon depending on the genetics of the plant, so you can plan on working it soon. Use good quality sharp pruners to get good clean cuts. If the stem bends or breaks rather than cutting cleanly, you may need to tighten the nut on the center pivot.

For a climbing vine you will cut to remove a stem entirely back to the stem from which it grew, or you will cut it back to about 1/4" above a bud on the out-side of the stem. Cut at about a 45 degree angle. Beyond that, for climbing roses you can cut it back to meet your size requirements. When you cut to that outside bud, you can assume that it will be the source of new growth. That allows you to some extent to shape and direct where that growth will occur. Stems (or new shoots this spring) that grow in undesired directions can be removed completely back to the stem from which it arose. With climbing roses, you will select (keep) stems that grow closely parallel to the support structure and remove those that grow away from it. For instance - if you have a major stem growing up a post with another stem growing at a right angle out into the porch area, remove that offending stem completely. Keep the one growing up the post. Select to keep new stems that you can train to the support structure. Since roses don't have means to attach themselves, some loose ties may help.

You can also continue this selection process during the growing season. If that stem is going to grow across the steps, there's no reason to wait until it takes your flesh off to remove it. Allow that energy to go into desired directions instead.
Depending on the rose's culture and breeding (climbers are really inbred), you may extend the blooming period by removing flowers as they fade. Typically, cut to a leaf that has 5 - 7 leaflets and that is growing in a desirable direction.

When pruning roses, I like to wear gloves and long sleeves. Personal choice. It's not required and will not likely affect the result as far as the rose is concerned.

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Trimming a rose vine

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