Trim an Overgrown Climbing Rosebush
LESLIE: Linda is calling in with a gardening question. How can we help you today?
LINDA: Well, I just moved into a new house – we just bought it – and it has a climbing rosebush.
LESLIE: Oh, how nice.
LINDA: Yeah, it is but my daughter said, “Oh, Mom, you need to trim this down.” (chuckles) I have no idea what she’s talking about. How far do I trim it? I mean it’s got some bare branches coming up.
LINDA: Do I take those out?
LESLIE: Now, when you say she wants you to trim it, does it seem like it’s just so overgrown or, like you say, you’re noticing a lot of dead wood on the rosebud that doesn’t seem to be turning green or growing leaves or showing any sign of life on the inside?
LINDA: Right. That’s what I have. And they’re very long.
LESLIE: Yeah, the dead wood. What you want to do is when you’re pruning rosebushes, you want to get rid of any of that broken, dead, diseased or any of that wood that you might see that looks dry or shriveled or black. And when you cut it back, you want to make sure that you cut at a 45-degree angle. And as you get down that branch, you see a place that maybe has a bud or a fresh leaf growing out of it, you want to cut about a quarter-inch above that bud or that leaf; whatever you see that’s showing growth. Because some of that wood may look dead but on the inside, it’s growing new growth and eventually, that wood will burst off.
But if you see that it really shows no sign of life, you want to cut it back. Make sure you do so at a 45-degree angle. You want to use clean, sharp tools and you want to begin pruning from the base of the rosebush and work your way outward.
Now, since yours is a climber, I’m not sure if this applies but generally, with rosebushes, you want to take away some of the dead plant from the inside to give it more light and circulation. But with a climber, that’s how it really holds onto whatever it’s growing on.
LINDA: Oh, OK.
LESLIE: So you just want to make sure that you cut back whatever is dead and when you’re cutting it, look inside of that branch and you want to trim back until the inside is white.
LINDA: Until the inside is white?
LINDA: OK, OK. I have no idea what I’m doing; I’m new to all this.
LESLIE: That’s OK. (Tom chuckles) Generally, they say that pruning rosebushes is very difficult and if you do any research online, they’re like, “Oh, you’ve got to be so careful.” But pretty much, you can’t mess up a rosebush; it really will fix itself within a season’s time. You’re not going to kill it. Just don’t go crazy.
LINDA: OK. Good, because you’re talking to a lady that killed a philodendron so …
LESLIE: Oh, good Lord. (all chuckle)
LINDA: OK. I will do my best.
TOM: Alright, Linda. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.