How to Train Climbing Roses


Train the Main Canes Horizontally Not Vertically

Image and article:

This article explains how to train climbing roses so that the bloom reach out horizontally from the main canes and not upward or vertically.

Don’t Prune the Main Canes

“…climbing roses grow on what are called main canes,  these are the primary canes that grow out of the base of the plant, These canes should always remain on the plant  and never be pruned off  unless you have severe die-back or disease issues.

Growing from the main canes are many side shoots, called lateral canes, or laterals  for short, and these canes are where the flowers will come from. Due to a plant behavior called apical dominance, when these canes are left to grow vertically  only the top ( ‘apical’) buds will produce flowers.

On the other hand, if you train the main canes horizontally all of the buds will be in essence the top, or apical buds and they will all produce flowers. In this photo I took, although the flowers are currently hanging down with the weight of the rain water, the main cane has been tied to grow at almost 90 degrees from the base,that is why there are flowers all along it instead of just at the top.

Below is  the uncropped photo so you can see the twine that is holding the cane horizontally ( the green stake below that is holding another cane trained below  this one).


Weave Around an Obelisk to Increase Horizontal Placement

If you are growing a climbing rose on a pillar or obelisk, the way to train the main canes is

to wrap them in circles spiraling up the structure so as you get as much horizontal placement of the main canes  as possible, and hence more flowers.

The laterals, or side shoots, are also the ones you want to prune when you need to reduce the size of  the rose . the grow anew each year so you won’t loose flowers if you cut them back.

So, in a nutshell, to get the most out of your climbing rose, train the canes to grow at between 45 and 90 degree angles from the base of the plant .

For more on this topic:

A few rules of thumb:

  1. Main canes on a climbing rose are the ones that grow from the base of the plant.  They form the structure
  2. Laterals are the “side-shoots” that come off the main canes.  they bear the flowers.
  3. To encourage more flowering train the main canes anywhere between horizontal and forty-five degrees.
  4. If you get to the edge of the trellis just keep winding the main canes back and forth across the face.

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