Is there a more inviting
garden entrance than a sunny arbor covered with roses? Or a more attractive
way to frame a front door than a rose-covered lattice? Roses are one of
the most versatile plant groups, at home in a rambling cottage garden
as much as they are in a more formal setting. And climbing roses are no
exception. Whether left to tumble over a picket fence or or carefully
trained to a horizontal wires to create a narrow privacy hedge, climbing
roses have a place in any garden.
The term "climbing
roses" is a little bit of a misnomer. Roses don't actually climb
in the same way that vines like ivy or clematis climb, using suction-cup
like holdfasts or twining around a support. Climbing roses are simply
rose varieties that tend to produce long, arching canes. Left on their
own, these roses would tend to form large, unwieldy shrubs; to get roses
to climb you must tie them to a support or manually weave them through
Before you dig in,
here are some guidelines for planting and training climbing roses.
where you'll plant. Roses
require at least 6 hours of sunlight during the growing season and fertile,
a support. Roses
produce more flowers when the structural canes grow horizontally, such
as along a fence, than when grown vertically, as on a rose tower. When
selecting a trellis, also consider ease of access for pruning and the
trellis' ability to hold the weight of a full grown rose in wet and
If possible, install the support before planting your roses. Be sure
the support is firmly anchored in the ground and strong enough for the
mature weight of the plants. If growing against a building, position
the trellis a few feet from the wall to allow for air circulation and
maintenance. Place it at right angles to the prevailing wind or in a
sheltered spot in very windy areas.
your rose. Dig
a hole 18 to 30 inches from the support. Mix compost or well-rotted
manure and a handful of superphosphate with the removed soil. If planting
a bare-root rose, make a cone of soil in the center of the hole on which
to drape the roots. Plant the graft union, the bulge where the top joins
the bottom, 2 to 6 inches below the soil line in cold-winter climates,
slightly above the soil level in warmer regions.
the canes. Climbing
roses produce two kinds of shoots: the main
structural canes and the flowering
shoots which grow from these canes. Select
the sturdiest structural canes and tie them loosely to the support with
strips of stretchy cloth, such as pantyhose. Space the canes evenly
and, ideally, as close to horizontal as possible.
climbers to grow unpruned, except to remove dead or broken branches,
for two or three years. On established plants, prune dead, damaged,
and overcrowded canes to the base. Tie in new canes to replace them.
Prune the flowering side shoots to two to three buds above the structural
canes during the dormant season.
Provide winter protection
in USDA Zones 7 and colder by untying canes and laying them gently on
the ground. Pin them down with U-shaped wire staples and cover with
soil or mulch. Plant a clematis vine 2 to 3 feet away from your climbing
rose and train them to grow together for an extended flowering display.