What To Do With Old Wood On Roses?

by Jean
(Sonoma County, CA)

QUESTION

Hi! I have a Golden Showers climbing rose that has successfully grown around a post at my front-door entryway.
As roses do, it developed some "dead" wood over the years (I planted it probably 15 years ago).

So last fall I cut it back pretty drastically, reducing it by about a third in height.

(I'm in northern California, north of San Francisco, by the way.)

A few weeks ago the ends of the older wood began to put out some leaves, while at ground level some vigorous new growth began coming up.

The new growth is now about 3 feet high with plenty of buds, but the older, woody section's new growth has now withered and appears to have died.

I'm now left with unattractive old wood about 2 feet higher than the new growth that's coming out at ground level.

Is it OK to cut back this old wood even more and let the new growth coming from ground level take over?
I don't want to prune drastically any further until I check with an expert!

Thanks!

ANSWER

Hello Jean,
You are right about checking with an expert before cutting back your Golden Shower climber any more.
The reason your climbing rose is behaving the way it's doing is because, you are pruning this climber totally wrong.

You should never do an overall drastic pruning on climbing roses.

Dead wood should be pruned off at the base using a pruning saw.

This should be done every year or so. But leave other productive long canes alone.

The long canes produce shorter flowering canes. This is where most flowers come from.

You need to read my page about pruning climbing roses and use this page for a guide in the future.

Right now this is what you can expect. Since you cut back the long canes drastically, the rose will now spend energy growing back long canes.

This means that that the climber will not have enough energy to to grow flowers this season.

By all means get rid of old wood at the base, because old wood do not produce many flowers any more, if any.

You say new growth is coming out at the "ground level"?
Those can be suckers, if they are not growing from the bud union.

Here is my page about rose suckers.
Kind Regards,
Annelie

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annelie



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