Pruning and training Lady Banks on a pergola

linccampbellJuly 17, 2011

Hi. Thanks in advance for any help.

I am a rare user, but I know that this is the place for expert advice.

I have a 16' x 16' by 9' pergola which I have planted four Lady Banks, one at each corner (photo below). The goal is for the plants to grow up and cover the pergola providing shade and overall beauty. As the plants get tall enough to pin horizontally across the top I would like to prune them as narrow as possible along the vertical section.

So, two questions:

1) Do I have too many plants, and if so how many should I remove? I think I do have too many, but I'm wondering if I should only have ne or if I should have two.

2) What is the best way to acomplish this?

Here is a link that might be useful: Photo of plants and pergola

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Are these the yellow Lady Banks? That's the one I have. I think 4 is actually OK, although you could cover the structure with two.

As for pruning, a grocery store in our town has grown 8 yellow Lady Banks in its parking lot for 20 years, each one on a 2 ft high, 4 ft wide metal trellis. They prune the heck out of them each Spring, and although I think it is ridiculous, the roses are thriving and look great (that is, they look healthy, although like miniature hedges). My point is that this rose will put up with a lot of pruning without going into a decline.

Re the vertical posts - my one yellow Lady Banks, which grew to 25 feet tall and 15 feet wide on our house, was still pretty narrow at the base. It had 2-3 main canes which got 2-3 inches in diameter. So, if you train the main canes vertically up the posts, and then after they have gotten bigger prune off any little branches that come out too far down, you should be able to keep them narrow.


    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 3:32PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

I don't know how it will be in your area, but R. banksia lutea can really get BIG in California, though, as it matures, I think it'll push most of the blooming growth upward.

As Jackie says, it can also take a lot of pruning. If you prune at the end of winter or early spring, you're going to cut off a lot of your bloom, but even the plants I've seen that are radically cut back do bloom fairly well in spring.

Just to keep in mind what sort of size it CAN achieve:


    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 4:12PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Yes, your small structure could prove to be too small for just one Banksian rose, let alone four. A double white one in Arizona made the Guinness Book of World Records some time ago.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 9:04PM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

But that one isn't pruned back.

You CAN prune R. banksia lutea, though I prefer not to. There are some incredibly compact plants here in our area, though those do not repeat, while my big one does, in this climate, through the year.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 12:20PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

That's because shearing of Banksian roses interferes with blooming. Why struggle with a plant that wants to explode well beyond the space provided? Climbers need to be matched to the size of the planting site, just like everything else.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2011 at 1:12AM
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jerijen(Zone 10)

ABSOLUTELY correct. :-)


    Bookmark   July 21, 2011 at 2:17PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I would not plant them on a pergola of this size. My father has one that has completely covered a pergola that is 16x40 ft. He's a knarly pruning maniac, but even he cannot keep up with this thing. It's overtaking the pool house and the trees nearby.

I just pulled a white one out that I was pruning several times a year, because I just got exhausted. I'm not sure they grow like this in your zone, but here in CA they are monsters. Beautiful monsters.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 1:53AM
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