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Roses - Pruning Climbers

( Originally Published 1914 )

HYBRID WICHURAIANAS AND HYBRID POLYANTHAS. About the last of July or the first of August, when the blooming season is over, it is, well to cut out some of the oldest and weakest canes; this gives new wood a better opportunity to develop and it becomes the flowering wood of the following season. The older wood blooms to some extent but not as well as the growth of the previous year. After this August pruning it will hardly be necessary in the following spring to do more than cut out the dead wood and keep the plant within the prescribed bounds, which may be determined by the arbor or trellis on which it is grown. The new canes springing from the base which have grown during the previous season should remain untouched, excepting that the ends or tops of the longest should be somewhat shortened. The same process used in pruning recently planted Hybrid Teas applies in the case of newly-planted climbers, and especially weaker-growing varieties planted the previous autumn, viz., pruning back "wickedly" in the spring to a few eyes. This gives the roots less work to do and insures good growth for the following year. It gives no chance for flowers during the first summer, but at best the blooms on a newly-planted climber would be poor; the great point is that such cutting back gives the plant a better chance to become established and se-cures good flowering wood the second year and there-after. But, if you insist upon trying for some flowers the first summer on newly-planted stock, be sure that such climbers as you do not cut back have well-established root systems with fibrous feeding roots and that they were planted the previous autumn, their root systems having been noted at that time.

Under no circumstances should the canes remain uncut on any imported climbers of winter or early spring planting, and the course above suggested cannot be recommended, though if it succeed with any varieties it should do so with the Wichuraiana or Polyanthas. With two- and three-year-old dormant American field-grown plants there is an even chance of success. Most certainly it would be well to give such plants special care, for example, the use of liquid manure as suggested in "Cultivation."

It is not necessary except in the extreme North to give winter protection to the canes of the hardy climbers; however, if they die back, bend them down to the ground in the future and cover with water-proof building paper and earth before the severe frosts set in.

In "Roses and Rose Growing, " Miss Kingsley suggests for special effect cutting out all the old wood on Wichuraiana and training the pliant, new canes over wire frames in the shape of arches. Undoubtedly very pretty effects could be obtained by this method. She also states that the Banksias, some of the Multifloras, and one Noisette, Fortune's Yellow, "only flower on the sub-laterals, i. e., on wood three years old." It will be readily understood how easily the above-named climbers could be spoiled by unintelligent pruning.

Hybrid Tea and Hybrid Perpetual Climbers (other than sports) and tender Hybrid Polyantha Climbers, such as Cecile Brunner, should be treated on some-what the same principle as the Wichuraiana Climbers. The difference is that their wood winter kills more easily, and therefore no thinning out of old canes should be done before spring, and then only when such canes crowd the new growths. The laterals on main canes should be cut back to from two to four eyes.

Climbing sports of dwarf roses, Tea Climbers and Noisettes should be pruned more sparingly. Old canes should only be removed as they become profit-less, laterals but slightly shortened unless they are crowded. In the case of all climbers better results will be obtained if they are carefully and systematically trained and fastened in place. Most Hybrid Tea Climbers, Noisettes, and all the Teas need winter protection, as above described.

For all climbers, on account of the greater evaporation due to their larger growth, much more water is necessary than for dwarfs.

The peat moss mulch, noted later, is strongly recommended.

In the extreme North the summer thinning of the wood of the hardy climbers is advocated by some authorities so that the canes left will become thoroughly matured.

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