Climbing Roses


We are in mid-town Toronto and have a 12 year old climbing rose going up our pergola which is in the north west corner of the garden. Can we prune the roses now? It is just starting to send out buds. We would like a lot of blooms on the sides and top of the pergola. Thank you.



Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners regarding Spring pruning of your mature climbing rose.

Early Spring, when the Forsythia blooms is an ideal time to prune and shape your 12 year old climbing rose. This article by Fine Gardening Magazine is an excellent step-by-step guide:

In addition, The Toronto Master Gardening Guide provides excellent information:

Remove all pruned trimmings and dead foliage in the vicinity to the municipal garbage collection.

We recommend fertilizing your rose in Spring and applying a light application following the blooming period with either an organic or inorganic fertilizer.  Organic fertilizers include manures, compost, or other plant and animal products (alfalfa, bone meal, fish fertilizer, kelp extract, etc.). Nutrient content is usually low, so use on a continual basis. There are many inorganic fertilizers on the market and we stress that you should follow the directions on the package. It is important to water your rose before and after applying fertilizer.

The last application of fertilizer should be by the end of July to prevent the plant going into winter with new tender growth.

Mulch the plant in the summer to retain moisture, keep the root zone cool, and to discourage weeds. Protect the crowns in winter with a mulch of leaves or compost making sure the base of the plant is free of mulch for about 2” or about 5 cm to prevent insect or disease damage.

We wish you great fun in pruning and training your climbing rose and that you reap a beautiful crop of bountiful blooms to engulf you while in your embellished pergola.