Reviving old Climbing Explorer Roses


We have two Explorer climbers – think Cabot is one of them – planted in 1997 at south west corner of the house in a trellis on the property line with good sun . The last 3 years they have been looking sadder and sadder. Took a lot of dead wood out again this year (ice storm damage too?)- 50% – and are down to 3 or 4 canes. Poor leafing and flowered very lightly. Some blotches on leaves – (rose black spot?) Would very much like to bring them back to their former glory – 10 feet tall- a wall of flowers. We have 3 or 4 new shoots coming from the base this year that look healthy.

What to do to bring them back? And if we succeed – how should we maintain them as we replanted another this year as it did not make it through the winter.



Thank you for your inquiry. Roses are sun-loving plants, so make sure your roses are placed where they receive at least 6 hours of sun each day in well drained soil. Roses also require sufficient air circulation to help their leaves dry out quickly whenever they get wet.

Most roses require frequent applications of fertilizer ( 10-29-10, 5-10-8, or 6-12-8) to keep them growing vigorously and blooming repeatedly. Do not fertilize newly planted roses until after their first bloom. The normal prcedure is to fertilize established plants in early spring, then just before their June blooming period, and the last time in July. Later application of fertilizer are not recommended so the plants can harden of their wood before winter.

Watering is another key to succesful roses, make sure to water deeply to wet the entire root zone. To reduce disease, water the soil, not the leaves.  Please refer to our post on Black Spot on Rose Bush for detailed instructions on how to combat this fungal disease.

The Toronto Master gardeners has an excellent Gardeners Guide entitled Pruning Roses which gives introductory information on how and when to prune roses.

Good Luck I hope you get your roses back to their former glory.