Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pruning Roses: Climbing Roses

Today I want to show you how I pruned two of my climbing roses or simply called climbers. This is how they looked in the second week of January 2011. 'Zephirine Drouhin' (Bourbon, Bizot, France, 1868) in the middle and 'Pierre de Ronsard' (Shrub rose, Meilland, France, 1987) on the right. 'Pierre de Ronsard' is also well know under the name 'Eden' or 'Eden Climber'. The rose growing in the big container with the white structure to the left is 'Iceberg', a Shrub rose, but in this post I will only talk about 'Zephirine Drouhin' and 'Pierre de Ronsard' because only these can be grown as climbers. Both roses are 3 - 4 years old. 'Zephirine Drouhin' has grown into a decent size for her age, whereas 'Pierre de Ronsard' is a little bit slow to get going. Just to give you an idea about their size: the fence behind them is 6 feet high. 

(you can click on the photos to enlarge)



How do I prune my climbing roses? First of all my aim is to grow them as freestanding shrubs. I want them to take on a harmonious, balanced, fountain-like shape with as many canes coming from the base of the plant as possible. Another option how you can grow climbers is to train them along a wall, a fence, a pillar etc. In my case I only have to prune the roses, but if you want them to be growing nicely on for example a wall you also have to train the canes in a certain way.

I honestly have to say that I always have shied away from growing a climber on a wall or fence simply because I think it is too much work for me. Since you not only have to prune, but train the canes, which means you have to tie them horizontally to something like a board or a wire each year. Sometimes you even have to loosen canes that you have tied last year and re-do them in a different way for the sake of the overall form of the rose or to cut them off. Besides the work aspect I also feel that climbers grown in a fountain-shape way gives them a very natural look and does not make the impression that you force the rose too much into a shape that a human being wants her to take on. Even though I have to admit that I have seen gorgeously trained climbers to walls in England, which I liked a lot. But these garden had a staff of gardeners, who did the work.

 
Here is a close-up of 'Zephirine Drouhin' before pruning.




'Zephirine Drouhin' after pruning.




To get started first I unfortunately have to de-leave the rose, which is more work than the pruning itself, since the Southern California climate is so warm that the roses don't loose the leaves by themselves as it would happen when there would be frost. I always dread that, but there is no way around, because you simply can not see the canes and the structure of the climber, if the rose is still fully closed in leaves. Then I take out the old canes that have not been so productive any more, which means they didn't produce that many blooms last year. I remove also all diseased, damaged, and dead canes. After that I cut back the tip of each canes until it is at least pencil thick. That makes sure that the cane is able to produce blooms of a decent size up to the end of it. After that I cut back all the laterals (side branches emerging from a cane) up to two to three bud eyes. This encourages blooms along the hole length of a cane.


And here is a close-up of 'Pierre de Ronsard'.



And that is how 'Pierre de Ronsard' looks after it is pruned.




If you would prune a climber grown along a wall etc. you would prune it exactly the same way, but after the pruning you have to tie the canes horizontally to wires (that you hopefully have put in place before you planted the climbing rose). The rose should take on a shape like a fan to get as many blooms as possible.


'Zephirine Drouhin' and 'Pierre de Ronsard' after they got their hair cut. Looking pretty bare, huh?




Zephirine Drouhin's canes are relatively pliable in comparison to 'Pierre de Ronsard's, which canes are much more stiff and upright. By the way 'Zephirine Drouhin' has hardly any thorns, whereas 'Pierre de Ronsard' prickles are sharp like knives. The latter has drawn quite some blood from me while pruning, even though I wear gloves. For safety reasons when I prune big roses I always wear goggles to protect my eyes. I hate doing that, but to me it is not worth to take the risk to get poked into the eye by a rose thorn.

The way I explained and showed to you, you prune repeatedly blooming climbers, which my 'Zephirine Drouhin' and 'Pierre de Ronsard' are. If you have a once blooming climber you let the rose flower in spring and prune only after the rose has bloomed, since these roses bloom on old wood. Otherwise you would prune all the wood of that will produce the flowers.


Here you can see all three roses after pruning.



This photo was taken two days ago, roughly four weeks after pruning the climbers. You can clearly see that 'Zephirine Drouhin' has started to leave out, whereas 'Pierre de Ronsard' looks almost unchanged. I have no other explanation for the difference in the new growth occurring on the roses other than it must depending on the rose variety, because the roses have been pruned at the same time and get the same amount of water. None of the roses is fertilized, yet. 


This close-up of a cane of 'Zephirine Drouhin' beautifully shows how the laterals are starting to grow. On all these side branches 'Zephirine Drouhin' will produce its very fragrant clear pink flowers. I love the look of the new dark burgundy foliage!



I am almost completely done with rose pruning in my garden, now it is time to fertilize the roses. But this is a topic for another post...

Can't wait for the spring flush. 

See you in the garden!

Christina




14 comments:

  1. Christina, I am looking forward to your spring flush, too!
    What a lovely view you have.
    This is a very helpful post. I have a big, ancient, Zepphy that I was finding a little intimidating. Your info helped a lot! Now, I'll go to pruning her with more confidence!
    Sandra

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  2. Sandra, thanks for stopping by and leaving this very nice comment!
    Yes, like our view a lot, too, and I am very thankful for it!
    It makes me happy when you find my post helpful. Good luck with tackling your Zephi!
    Christina

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  3. I enjoyed reading about your climbers. I can't wait to see pictures of Zepherine in bloom!

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  4. Masha, thanks for visiting my blog! I am glad that you liked reading about my climbing roses. I can't wait to see Zephi blooming either. This year she should be gorgeous.
    Christina

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  5. Dear Christina,

    I have passed on the Stylish Blogger award to you in the hope that more people will learn about your wonderful blog.

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  6. Christina, I have passed the Stylish Blogger Award to you. Your blog is linked on mine, and I hope more bloggers will enjoy it now like I have. Visit my blog if you would like to collect the award and pass it on.

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  7. Dear Masha and Sherry, thank you both soo... much for passing on the Stylish Blogger Award to me! I feel very lucky to receive it!
    Christina

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  8. Zepherine is a beautiful rose. I see it alot here in Alabama. Thanks for the info on "Our Lady Of Guadalupe" on garden web. I think i'm going to give her a try.....

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  9. Hi Redneck Rosarian, thanks for stopping by at my blog and also for becoming a follower! Yes, Zephi can be wonderful. Unfortunately here in San Diego I personally haven't seen any other ZDs besides my own. Zephi has a reputation that it is not doing well in SoCa. I truly can't said that of my specimen.
    Hope Our Lady of Guadalupe works out for you in Alabama!
    Christina

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  10. Hi. Greetings. This post is really good and blog is really interesting. It gives good details.
    Organic Gardens

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  11. Thiruppathy, thanks for visiting my blog! I am glad that you like this post and find my blog interesting and detailed. Comments like this are of course very motivating to me! Thanks!

    Christina

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  12. Greetings! I love roses but try twice to plant them one directly to the soil and the other in a pot. I live in Puerto Rico (Tropical Zone, lots of sun and water) which is Zone 10. Both plants died after one year. I would like to start again, specially climbers but don't know which ones will thrive in our weather. I love your roses pictures and garden.

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  13. Hi Elisabet, thanks for your kind words about my blog and garden! It is always frustrating when a rose dies, isn't it? But I am with you, I would simply try again. Even though we are in the same zone, I can't recommend any roses to you, because I am in a dry Mediterranean climate and you are in a humid tropical one, which makes a big difference. I believe roses are much harder to grow in the tropics. Maybe there is a local rose society close to you and they could give you some recommendations? Good luck!

    Christina

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  14. You have my favourite rose of all on top of your lovely blog - I adore Pope John Paul II - it is the most gorgeous white rose I have ever seen with a magnificent perfume. Also I have Zephirine Drouhin, but haven't had it in for long - it is inclined to get mildew but I think this is probably because of the climate in the southern part of Australia.

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