UACES Facebook Climbing
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May 1, 2017


I have an old climbing rose bush that blooms great every season.  Normally I am religious about spraying for black spot, but this year, conditions occurred that preoccupied me, and blackspot has already hit.  Is there hope of getting it under control once it has started?  I have begun my weekly sprays of fungicide, but wonder if it is foolhardy?

AnswerBy all means, continue spraying. While I do agree that prevention is much better than curing, this early in the season your sprays will still help.  It will take a while before you see less black spot, given time, it should get less and less.  If you can dispose of the leaves that are infected, do so.  If that means totally denuding the bush, live with them, until they begin to drop on their own.  You may want to do some pruning now as well. We normally prune climbing roses after the first flush of flowers, so if you have not pruned, take out a third of the older canes and dispose of them.  Continue weekly sprays, and fertilize monthly.  If you didn’t spray at all, the plant would be weakened for next growing season.


(Aug. 2012)

QuestionMy knockout roses are staying alive, with a little watering, despite the punishing summer. They would probably look better if I deadheaded them aggressively, as well as maybe blooming more later. Or should I leave them in place to produce hips for wild animal/bird food. Should I deadhead my other roses, the climbers and the shrubs and teas? I usually leave them pretty much alone, but they are pretty neglected concerning feeding and pruning.

AnswerMany rosarians do a little corrective pruning, both deadheading and thinning a bit of the rose plants in the heat of summer. This lets the plant conserve some of its resources, gives it a fuller foliaged plant and allows for better blooming when the temperature eventually breaks in the fall. Keep in mind that when a plant is blooming, its main resources go to the flowers. Some of our roses can get a little leggy by late summer, and could use a little more fullness of foliage. Don’t get carried away and do extensive pruning, but a little corrective pruning may be just what the doctor ordered. Continue to water and if it isn’t too awfully hot, give them a light dose of fertilizer as well. Knockout roses usually don’t form rose hips, since they are “self-cleaning” which means they don’t set seeds, but try to continually bloom. The only roses I would not prune are the climbers, especially those that only bloom in the spring, as you could interfere with flower set.

(February 2008)

QuestionHow far back should I prune my climbing rose bush and when is the appropriate time? I am pretty proficient with my bush roses, but am uncertain what to do with the climbers.

AnswerMany climbing roses bloom their best in the spring. Even those that are ever blooming climbers, have their best display of flowers the first bloom. Allow your climbing roses to bloom in the spring, and then prune. Prune out one or two of the older and woodier canes close to the main crown. This should encourage younger branches which should keep the plant in bounds and give you more flowers. Tip cut any thin twiggy growth.

(June 2009)

QuestionI have 7 climbing roses. They have bloomed all summer long every summer until this year. They were beautiful for a month or so and then quit blooming. I have been putting banana peelings around them for the last two years because I heard they need potassium. Am I giving them too much potassium? We use a lot of bananas. What can I do to make them bloom again? I am old and unable to do much in the yard but I want to save my roses. Thanks for any help you can give.

AnswerI do not believe you are overdosing the plants with banana peels, nor do I think that is what is making them stop blooming. There are many folks who swear by banana peels as an amendment to their fertilization regime. I would probably limit how many you use annually, more for the buildup of decaying banana peels around the base than anything else. I would not rely solely on banana peels as your only fertilizer. I would use a general fertilizer or to complement the phosphorous in the banana peels, a slow release high nitrogen fertilizer would be great. Also be aware that many climbers have one of their best floral displays early and then recover and begin to bloom again later in the season. Some climbers only bloom once a year, but since you have had them all season in the past, give them time to set more buds and see if you don’t have blooms again. I am assuming they are in full sun and that they are healthy and not prone to black spot disease.

(July 2006)

QuestionWe have a brick mailbox with a rounded top. I have 3 climbing rose bushes that I want to climb over the top of the mailbox. I got busy last fall and did not prune them. We had a lot of roses this year, but there weren’t a lot of leaves. The roses have finished blooming and they are scarce as far as the leaves go. The leaves that are there look green with no spots. After they started blooming this year, I fed the bushes and also applied the Bayer liquid for roses. At this time, I have several limbs with little or no leaves that are going all over the place. There are a lot of thorns. Any suggestions of how to train these climbing roses to climb over the mailbox? Should I go ahead and prune them now? I was just not sure, because if I keep pruning them, they will never be long enough to climb the mailbox.

AnswerClimbing roses can bloom all summer or only once in the spring--it depends on the variety. Many people are uncertain as to when to prune so they just don't and the plants get gangly and less thrifty. Allow climbers to bloom in the spring and then do your pruning. Normally we like to take out one to three older canes and take out the thin, weak wood. Taking out an old cane now is not going to hurt but recovery will be slower since it is hot and dry. The goal is to have a variety of aged canes with foliage from the ground up. Mailmen are often not fond of a lot of landscaping around the mailbox, as bees can compete with mail delivery. Have some type of trellis for them to grow on, prune annually after the first flush of blooms in the spring, fertilize monthly, water as needed and control black spot when it is needed and your roses should do well.

(Jan. 2010)

QuestionMy question is about climbing rose bushes. What time of year do you plant them and when can you purchase them?

AnswerClimbing roses are available at many nurseries year-round, but for best selection, start looking in February when they start getting in their new shipments. If there are particular climbers you are looking for, ask now and they may be able to get them for you. You can plant container plants year-round, but doing so in late February to April gets them off and running quite nicely.

(August 2006)

QuestionI'm attaching two photos that I took of the blooms on my climbing Joseph's Coat rose bush. The bush looks very healthy and has been growing well - I planted it earlier in the summer. However, the petals on the blooms are curled - when the bud first starts, it looks fine, but as it opens, they all seem to have the curls on them. Could it be thrips? And if so, how is the best way to treat them?

AnswerIt could be thrips. Since it is a new plant, it could also be a reaction to a more limited root system, with the intensely hot, dry summer. The plant itself looks quite healthy. Continue to water, do a good job of sanitation this fall, getting rid of all spent blooms and fallen leaves. I would imagine by the looks of the foliage that you have done a great job of spraying for disease, but again go lightly with the heat. Watch closely next spring, and if you see a problem then, use a systemic insecticide such as Orthene or Acephate to control any thrips. If you cut into a bud, you should be able to see them moving around inside the flower. They are tiny, so you may want a magnifying glass.

(March 2005)

QuestionWe have three climbing roses planted a little over a year and six months ago. They are about half way to the top of each trellis. Should I prune them back now or just let them continue to grow. I want to do what is correct for the best health of the bushes.

AnswerClimbing roses do need to be pruned every year, but not until after they bloom. While some species of climbers do bloom all summer, others only bloom once in the spring. Allow all climbers to bloom before pruning. Then remove one or two of the older, larger woodier canes back to within a foot of the ground. You can also prune some of the other long sprouts back to a reasonable length.

(March 2005)

QuestionWe have a beautiful antique climbing rose in our yard. It is a Cecile Brunner. It has grown to epic proportions. It is now up high into an oak tree nearby. Naturally, it is quite lovely when it blooms. However, we were ignorant to the fact that we should prune out the dead canes right away and have consequently let it become overgrown. How do we prune it now? Do we cut it down to a manageable height and start over? Please advise.

AnswerMost Cecile Brunner roses only bloom once in the spring, so enjoy your spring floral display before you begin to reshape. Then you can take it back as far as you want to. They can be prolific growers, and if space is not an issue, you can let them grow. Thinning out older, woodier canes annually after flowering, will keep them more manageable.

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