Roses Are Plants Too!

When It Comes To Climbing Roses The Key Is Patience

Mrs FW Flight climbing rose
Mrs. F. W. Flight on a pillar.  A sight that takes several years to achieve.
Photo/Illustration: Paul Zimmerman Roses

A very frequent question I’m asked is, “I just planted some climbing roses and they aren’t blooming much”.

This is a normal question to ask when you plant a rose and then 6 months later it has ten foot long canes waving about the garden with barely a flower on them.  The description for the rose said “repeat flowering climbing rose” and by this point you’re thinking, “I’ll settle for even one flower!”

Have no fear.  It will eventually repeat flower on a steady basis.  But to achieve this constant curtain of blooms you have to do two things.

First, never, ever prune the long main canes.

Here is why.  Think of a young fruit tree.  When you first plant a baby fruit tree it usually does not bear fruit for the first four to five years.  Not because you got a bad plant, but because the fruit tree needs to put its energy into growing first and only then can it redirect energy into bearing fruit.  It cannot grow and bear fruit at the same time.  For this reason you would never cut a young fruit tree back every year because you are just delaying the point when it can switch over from growing to offering you ripe peaches, apples or oranges.

Climbing Roses are just like fruit trees.  When you plant them the first thing they need to do is grow to their ultimate size.  Then, and only then, can they redirect their energy from growing to producing rose blooms.  But if you cut back the main canes every year during pruning season you are delaying the flowering process – just like you would with a fruit tree.  This growing process takes two to three years depending on your climate and that brings us to the second point.

Patience.  In this day and age of instant everything gardening reminds us that Mother Nature still moves to her own beat and there is no way we can make it faster.

Unless Steve Jobs invents the iRose.

Happy Roseing

If you have questions please feel free to post them on our Rose Are Plants, Too discussion forum.

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  1. user-7007574 05/11/2015

    I have a Myer lemon tree that has not produced even 1 flower, much less a lemon, obviously. It was started as a dappling off a very large tree 5 yes ago and I have babied it. Since it won't produce we keep it for the giant swallow tailed butterfly caterpillars. What am I doing wrong? I have another that produces a lot of fruit.

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