‘Prune hard now!’ Monty Don shares fragrant plant to prune now to ‘avoid winter damage’


Climbing roses should be pruned between autumn and up until the end of winter. Most roses should be pruned in winter, the only exception is rambling roses, which should be pruned immediately after flowering. Monty Don has shared his top tips on how to prune climbing roses in autumn and winter.

Sharing advice in his latest blog post for this month, the Gardeners’ World presenter, Monty Don, wrote: “Climbing roses flower on shoots grown the same spring so they can be pruned hard now.

“Rambling roses on the other hand produce their flowers on shoots grown the previous summer so should only be pruned immediately after flowering.”

Rambling roses flower well in early years without any pruning. However, they need annual pruning once established. 

After flowering, cut side shoots back for healthy shoots by removing any dead, diseased or damaged stems right down to the base. Avoid pruning the current year’s growth as this will carry next year’s flowers.

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Next, make sure to have a good pair of pruners. These need to be sharp – either sharpen them at home using a sharpening stone or diamond sharpener, or find out if the manufacturer offers a sharpening service.

Gardeners will also need to clean their tools after each rose they prune, to avoid transferring disease.

Bear in mind pruners will only cut through green rose stems. For thicker branches and deadwood, use loppers or a hand saw.

Monty noted that the first step to pruning climbing roses is to remove any signs of damage. He said: “Start by removing any damaged or crossing growth or any very old wood which can be pruned right back to the ground.

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“The main stems should be fanned out at an equidistance as horizontally as possible, tying them to wires or a trellis. Then all the side shoots growing from these main stems – which produced this year’s flowers -can be reduced to a short stub of a couple of leaves.”

When pruning climbing roses, it is important to cut just above a bud that points in the direction gardeners want a new stem to grow. 

Avoid cutting above a bud that will direct growth to a garden path or an area that is commonly passed by in the garden to ensure the plant doesn’t get in the way.

Monty added: “The effect should be a tracery of largely horizontal growth with pruned side-shoots running along their length. Finally make sure it is all tied firmly in to avoid winter damage.”

Ensuring that the climbing roses are tied will also help support the plant for the growing season ahead.

After pruning a climbing rose, feed it with a specialist rose product. Climbing roses often need a larger dose of feed than shrub roses, so check the packet instructions. 

Mix the rose feed into the soil surrounding the rose, but avoid the product coming into contact with the main stems.

Finish by mulching the roses with compost or well-rotted manure, which will add further nutrients, suppress weeds and disease and help keep in moisture. Apply it around two to three inches thick, covering the area beneath the main rose canopy.



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