Yes, you can drastically prune well-established roses. I have only
done this drastic cutback one time due to blackspot. I bought a pair
of Felco pruning shears just for my Don Juan roses. Roses benefit by
regular pruning, allowing better air circulation, shape, light, and
bloom. Wear long sleeves and leather gloves.
Climbing roses do tend to "take over" if you let them. Even though the
so-called experts don't recommend pruning them I give some of mine a
good pruning about every five years. It grows over an archway (there
are actually two bushes, one on each side). To keep it "in check" I
also prune it lightly in late winter (about this time of the year).
Bill R. (Ohio Valley, U.S.A)
To see pictures from my garden visit http://members.iglou.com/brosen
If you prune a climber low to the ground, you will eliminate most of
this year's flowers.
Climbers should be pruned to keep 2-4 long main branches. It's best to
keep an equal number of old and new branches. The old ones will flower
better, but the new ones will grow better. Next year, remove this
winter's old branches; this winter's new ones will be next year's old
Although you keep long main branches, they headed (cut somewhat
shorter). But the key is to shorten or remove all side branches. This
is especially true where the long main branches are somewhat horizontal.
If headed, the horizontal branches will send out new side branches
which will have this year's flowers.
See my <http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_rosepruning.html .
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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