Impatience didn't pay off!

merrygardener(z8olywa)January 30, 2009

Several years ago I bought a climbing rose at a local home garden business. It was one of those "my grandmother brought it over on the wagon train" kind of roses which blooms mid-June with a lovely scent. In my excitement to make it grow quickly up my new arbor, I foolishly encouraged it to go straight up the arbor and didn't weave it horizontally on the way up. Now it has the skinny trunk with tons of growth on top. Should I a)encourage some to work their way down the original side so it's growing down both sides; b) cut it back significantly and start anew or c) let it go and plant another climber on that side? By the end of next summer I expect the growth on the other side will be full and lush which will make the "trunk side" look even worse!

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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

I did the same thing with a Jacob's Coat -- I wanted to get it tall enough so that the deer didn't eat it -- but it just looks ugly! I've been trying to get it to branch out for a couple of years now with little success. I'm interested in the answers from the experts too.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 12:27PM
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reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

Climbing roses bloom on the canes that grow off the main canes, like what you're referring to as the skinny trunk. You encourage those lateral canes by training the primary canes horizontally, or by trimming off the tip. Since you already have some time invested in that skinny primary cane, you might try just trimming off the top to allow side buds lower down to grow. They won't want to grow downwards, so you'll want them to start from lower down.

Most climbing roses need at least three years to get established, and then they throw out more of the primary canes for you to play with. If yours is more than three years old, and it only has the one primary cane, you might want to try feeding and watering more to encourage it to put out more canes.

If trimming the top, and extra fertilizer, don't do the trick then I vote for B. I don't think A is a viable option, and C should not be necessary.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 12:27PM
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kathwhit(z8, West OR)

If you can't get it to grow more bushy, grow some clematis with it. They bloom when the roses don't, and you can plant a shorter one that will cover the "stem".

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 7:00PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Or plant a clematis that blooms with the rose.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 11:15PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. What fertilizer would make it happy and encourage that growth?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 10:25PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

You can find products labeled "rose fertilizer" at garden centers. Don't fertilize liberally for years without checking with a soil test periodically, you want to avoid a phosphorus buildup in particular.

You do want to keep them adequately supplied with nutrients, large-flowered roses need good soil to be fully productive - even most wild roses are characteristic of fertile soils in nature.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 10:40AM
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