We have two climbing roses.We inherited this from the previous owner of our house.

Last year we pruned them quite short in the fall and banked them, just like we did with the rest of the roses (grandifloras, ramblers, etc)

The rest of the roses flowered in springtime and summer, the climbing roses just grew taller and taller.

I have learnt now that one should train the climbing roses by bending the main stalks horizontally to promote side stalks, which is where the flowers will appear. I am looking forward to try this.

My questions are:

  • Should I get rid of most of the woody stiff stalks and keep only the new bendy ones? Please notice all these stalks grew this year, but some grew right at the beginning of spring so they are quite thick and tall and some grew later in the season, so they are thinner and shorter.
  • Should I do this pruning now (end of fall, November) or should I wait for springtime?
  • Should I bank the bottom of the climbing roses so they are protected during winter, just like we bank the other ones? Any other winter protection measure I should consider?

I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Thanks in advance!

1 Answer 1


Prune back old, dead, or suspect branches older than 3 years. Doing so now is fine. Don't prune last years growth except where it's really in the way or causing another problem at this time. You risk loosing that branch. Don't prune climbers in the Spring, but wait until after blooming next year. Unfortunately, there are really hardy climbers and not-so-hardy ones. Unless you know which you have you may need, to protect them. I think it's less likely that they are the not-so-hardy types... However providing a bit of protection, especially from temperature swings can't hurt them. Not sure what banking is, but mulching or mounding loose soil - yes. Don't use straw or hay as mice or voles may be a problem and they eat rose bark. Where it's really cold people take down the climbers and bury or mulch over the whole plant. They don't do that here where it's zone 5 (similar to your Canadian Zone 6) - so I think you are fine in Toronto as well. Utah has a variety of climates but I think this is a great guide: USU Rose Guide

  • Great answer! (+1) "Banking" is what my partner calls "mulching" or "mounding" : )
    – cockypup
    Nov 27, 2015 at 19:30
  • 1
    @cockypup, I agree with the answer except I would recommend waiting until next year to prune. Pruning roses this late will lead to some winter drying from the cuts, and you will have to take the canes back further. wait until spring, right before bud break, and do all the pruning then. You shouldn't have any dieback after that
    – J. Musser
    Dec 3, 2015 at 4:00
  • I don't grow climbers. But am going on what I learned in my Master Gardener classes. For most roses, spring pruning is recommended. But for climbers they recommend pruning after bloom (later in the Summer or Autumn). But as J. Musser says, don't cut 'live' canes, only remove dead or really damaged ones now (when dormant). I don't really know what would be the harm in waiting, except that it might be hard to see them later. And maybe J. Musser knows from personal experience. I know the writers of the doc I posted a link to, and they really know their stuff. Their roses are magnificent. Dec 3, 2015 at 17:43
  • @EricDeloak It also has a great deal to do with where in the world the rose is located.
    – J. Musser
    Dec 4, 2015 at 20:33

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