My climbing rose is 3 years old and struggling. It had three branches this spring and one gave me a nice rose. Shortly after, it started to drop all the leaves. It has some live growth at the bottom but now the other branches look like they are dying. Should I cut off the three branches? What can I do to help my rose bush?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hi, Mary: Your climbing rose does not sound like it is very vigorous with little growth and few flowers. First, let’s make sure it is growing in the right conditions. Climbing roses should receive a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight each day. Ideally it should get eight or more but six will do. Roses do well in nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. If your climbing rose is planted in new construction with poor drainage or has not been given additional nutrients for three years, this may be part of the issue. As far as the three canes that do not look good, go ahead and remove them. It is fine to prune back dead or diseased canes anytime of the year. Other pruning should wait until the plant is dormant. Since the new growth looks healthy, let’s encourage this to be the new climbing rose and hopefully it thrives. It will benefit from being fed if you have not done so recently. Always follow application rates with the fertilizer you choose. Too much can have the reverse effect in terms of flowers. You can take a sample of one of the canes that you remove to your horticulture agent with your County Cooperative Extension Service or to a garden center with a knowledgeable staff to find out why they declined.