Old unpruned climbing roses
In my new place there are some very old climbing roses that havent been pruned for years. The stems are as thick as my wrist and some of the plants consist of up to ten such stems. The climbing part is a huge 1-2 metre thick tangle of dead-looking, spiny stems with a thin outer layer of leaves and a few flowers. Actually I would just burn them except they are near buildings, because I can see no way to revive or prune these plants. Does any one have any suggestions?
I had a rose (Albertine)in a similar state. Unsure of what to do I put on as much protection gear as possible,climbed underneath and started cutting. It came back beautifully, bigger, better and more rampant than ever. I cut it back very hard because I was expecting to pull it out and didn"t get around to it! Good luck. Julie
Bren, Please! Please! Do not burn them or dig them out until you know what type of roses they are. Many of the Heritage roses brought to Australia by our Pioneers have been lost because people didn"t know what they were. Feed them with cow manure and some blood & bone and give them a good watering at least once a week and more often in hot weather. Once a week also give them a drink of diluted Seasol. When they flower, take photos and email them to Mrs Jean Newman at Reliable Roses/Vic Email: inforeliableroses.com.au I"m sure Jean will be happy to identify them and help you. The other Heritage Rose grower you can try is Mistydowns/Vic mistydowns.com.au Heritage roses are part of our history and they provide necessary food for honey bees and our native bees. If we have no bees then we won"t have any food to eat either. Just cut out the canes that are definitely dead and leave the rest (unless they are really twiggy). When ready they will flower along the canes.
Thanks for your comments. I cut these back to stems/trunks, and they grew new shoots with a vengence to say the least. I will have to thin the new shoots, and the plants have yet to flower. I hope the flowers are worth it....
Bren, Pleased to hear that you have cut the roses back and not dug them out. However, if they are climbing Heritage roses they will flower along the new canes and sometimes only once a year as is the case with "Albertine" mentioned by Julie. "Albertine" flowers in late spring to early summer and has a rich fragrance that is unforgettable. Keep feeding and watering the roses and once a week give them diluted Seasol and "Power Feed" mixed together. Every 2 weeks add a small pinch of "Sulphate of Potash" to the mix. This may bring on flowers in Autumn, otherwise you will have to wait for Spring/Summer. During Winter continue feeding the roses with Seasol and "Power Feed" once a week.(No potash during Winter). The canes of climbing roses should be tied down and supported horizontally, so a wire frame on which you could tie the canes will greatly assist with flowering. I hope I have been of some help. Good Luck. Barbara.