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Question: I had a nice climbing rose that had grown to over 10 feet tall with lots of large branches and had bloomed great but this winter the winds toppled it over and it died. What happened?

Answer:  Climbing roses need to be managed somewhat differently than hybrid tea, (for cut flowers), or floribunda and shrub roses (for lots of little blooms on bushy plants). Climbers bloom on ‘old wood’ meaning that blooms form on one year or older canes. This means that unlike the former 2 types that should be pruned down to about a foot each spring, climbers should be secured to a structure and pruned modestly each spring. Each season long branches (canes) grow 8-10 feet but generally do not bloom. The next season branches emerge from buds where each leaf was. These will produce blooms several times over the summer. As each bloom fades, it should be removed. This will encourage the plant to produce more blooms. While these one year canes are blooming a healthy climber will produce more canes that will bloom the following year. Secure both canes to your structure.

The following spring, reduce the short branches on the 2 year canes to 2-3 buds and you should see both 1 and 2 year canes bloom over this second summer. In the fall or very early spring of the next year do your normal pruning but remove the first cane that has now bloomed for 2 years as close to the ground as possible. These older canes, left on the plant will lose vitality and interfere with the management of the remaining canes. 

I think this had something to do with your loss as the plant became too large and had too much for the wind to bear on which caused root damage.

Be sure to fertilize regularly starting in early April and continue until early August. Follow rates and frequency on the rose food package.


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