When to prune a climbing rose (China Rose)


Have climber rose called China Rose in raised structure in front of garage. Seems neglected by previous homeowner. Such beautiful red blooms. Climber only approx 2-1/2 ft tall. Do I prune now ? Dont want to kill it as altho appears frail, it seems to be a fighter. Should I protect it in winter ? I dont have a collar. Thank you.



Thanks for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners about your climbing rose (Rosa chinensis).

Your red blooms do sound lovely, and I do hope they are accompanied by some fragrance!

China Roses can be grown as climbing vines or as a small shrub.  I suggest you choose a form (vine or shrub) that you like and then prune accordingly.  They can tolerate some shade, although the best blooming would require at least six hours of sun.  If you have an appropriate amount of sunshine, your China Rose could bloom from spring to fall.

Roses do need to be pruned every year to stay healthy.  However, pruning them in the fall or winter is not recommended because it might cause them to put on new growth that could be winter-killed and damage the plant.

If your rose has become seriously overgrown or unmanageable, prune it hard in early spring before the plant puts on leaves and after there is no danger of a hard frost (around late April to early May).  Take out the oldest and weakest canes, and ones that might be preventing proper airflow. Prune to where there is a bud growing in the direction you want (generally to the outsides – and towards your raised structure).

Then tie those canes to a support so they are as horizontal as you can get, i.e. curving up and out. These horizontal (lateral) canes will send up new vertical shoots. Also trim and train these horizontally but don’t crowd the canes.

In future years, you can do a less hard prune for maintenance, again in early spring.  You will also want to trim lightly after the first flush of growth in the spring, to keep your chosen plant shape and to encourage new blooms.

Feed your rose annually with about an inch or two of compost at its base. Stop feeding the rose by late August.

The Toronto Master Gardeners have a guide on pruning roses, with a section on climbing roses.  See here:  Pruning Roses – A Toronto Master Gardeners Guide.

And here is a link specifically about China Roses with winterizing tips:  How to Grow and Care for Rosa chinensis – thespruce.com

I hope that your rose will thrive and delight you for many years to come.