Roses Are Plants Too!

Got Young Climbing Roses? Let em Grow!

A fence full of climbing roses takes 3-5 years to mature and fill in.  Patience is the key!
Photo/Illustration: Paul Zimmerman Roses

I had an email from a reader in Germany who had just planted some climbing roses.  He asked what to do with them their first year.  Should he prune them, leave them alone; something in between.

It’s a timely question because now that many of us are going into winter we might be tempted to give that young climber a whack or two.


I believe in letting young climbers grow all they want during their first two years so they can get to size.  You see, climbing roses don’t bloom much their first season or two because they are growing to their full height.  That takes a lot of energy.

It’s like fruit trees.  When they are young they don’t yield fruit.  It’s only when they get to mature size and stop growing that they can turn their energy towards producing those apples, peaches, pears and so on.

It’s the exact same thing with climbing roses.  (Except of course for the apples, peaches and pears part!)

So don’t trim those young climbing roses.  If you have to tidy them up a bit snip at some of the wilder growth here and there or tie it in, but for the first two years let ’em grow and just keep training them!

Happy Roseing

View Comments


  1. Trudidiva 11/13/2010

    As always great advice.
    I would add just one thing. Do be sure to cut off 'suckers', those branches that grow below the bud union. I once lost a climber because of them-------I thought they were young canes--------but they were not.

  2. PFZimmerman 11/13/2010

    Great tip but make sure your roses are grafted or budded roses before you do this. Own-root roses do not have suckers so never cut growth from the "base".

  3. janicejm1 03/11/2011

    Could you please tell me if rambler roses are to be tied horizontal as climbers do? What is the diffenance?

  4. PFZimmerman 03/12/2011

    Ramblers also benefit from being tied horizontally. The main differences between ramblers and climbers are that ramblers get much bigger and generally are spring flowering.

  5. dirtdirtdirt 04/21/2012

    Thanks for the advice! I just put in 2 climbing knockout roses and a pinkie/new dawn earth friendly combo (different sides of the house) . I can't wait to see what they'll do in a few years. thanks!

  6. PFZimmerman 04/26/2012

    Glad it helped and thanks for following the blog!

  7. user-7006967 06/02/2014

    What happens if you didn't know this & you have 2/3/4 yr old climbers + an older arching Fairy rose * Banksia which has been pruned back - when it probably shouldn't have been? Now I've seen some of your videos I'm going round madly laying branches at 45-degree angles & horizontal but I'll probably have to be patient while the rose re-grows as it should? I'm down in Tasmania, so it's coming to Winter now :) I feel very guilty about this & most of the roses we get around here seem to be grafted... This yellow rose is a Banksia, which is now huge, swamping an arbor - I think I erred by trimming some of those leaders back - but they are so high in the air I can't reach them! These blooms were a couple years back - the last 2 springs haven't been as great (it only flowers for about 3-wks :( ) Any advice would be WELCOME...

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