Pruning and training climbers

Climbing plants pose more pruning problems than shrubs, because in addition to the normal pruning requirements you need to make sure that the climbers grow in the direction you prefer and do not wander oil into the neighbor’s garden or away from the rest of your scheme.
Most climbing plants have a natural tendency to reach for the light, with the result that they flower at the top of increasingly long stems, which may not be the look you intended. You may also prefer to prevent the plant from heading straight for the root of the house and filling the gutters. Your view of the flowers
then becomes rather limited, so the chief aim when pruning and training climbers is to persuade the plant to produce (lowering stems lower down where they can be appreciated. Generally, this is done by creating a Ian shape and encouraging the spread of horizontal branches, as opposed to purely vertical ones. Some climbers arc notoriously vigorous and demand quite considerable pruning effort. For this reason, wisteria is not a plant for the fainthearted gardener. The Bhukara fleece flower (Polygonum baltlschuanicum) is frequently recommended for covering unsightly views quickly, but its common name is ‘mile-a-minute, and this is really not much of an exaggeration; it is best to avoid this plant unless you arc prepared to spend a lot of time pruning.
How climbers grow
The amount of work demanded of the gardener depends on the natural habit of the plant. Some climbers attach themselves to any support with no help I mm the gardener. These are the plants that have aerial roots or small suckers that fix on to any surface. Others, such as manj rambling roses, will scramble over suitable supports using the thorns on their stems.
These vigorous climbers need to be cut back fairly severely. Young lateral shoots not needed for the framework of the plant are cut back annually in midwinter.
1 Start by untwining any tangled shoots and stems. These may need to be cut out in sections to prevent other shoots from being damaged.
2 Space the remaining shoots (o give an even covering over as much of the support us possible. Tie shoots to he used as part

of the plant’s framework into position.
3 Cut back long lateral growths which are not to be used us part of the framework to just above a bud. 6-8 in. from where they emerge from the stem.
4 Tie as many shoots as possible into a horizontal position, to help to cover the frame and encourage flowering. Fix the ties into a figure-eight around the stem and supports.

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