How to grow climbing roses

How to grow climbing roses

Climbing roses are the perfect plants to add height to a garden. The choice is huge, so take time to find the right climbing plant for you and your garden.

There are climbing roses available in all the popular rose categories – hybrid tea roses, bourbons and English roses. Choose from double or single flowers, thornless or scented – the rose will live for decades so it’s worth getting it right. Climbers can be grown up house walls, along garden fences, over pergolas or up large obelisks. Nearly all climbing roses offer more than one flush of flowers. Flowers are larger than those of rambling roses.

How to grow climbing roses

Grow climbing roses in moist but well-drained, fertile soil, in full sun to partial shade. Tie stems into a loose framework to maximise flowering potential. Feed plants in spring with a balanced fertiliser. In autumn, clear up fallen leaves to prevent the spread of fungal infections such as rust and blackspot, then mulch the soil with well-rotted manure, leaf mould or compost. Prune annually in winter.

In this short video guide, the experts at Harkness Roses share their tips for growing climbing roses, including how to prune them to get the most flowers.

More on growing roses:

Find detailed advice on growing climbing roses, below.


Where to plant climbing roses

How to grow climbing roses - where to grow climbing roses
How to grow climbing roses – where to grow climbing roses

Plant your climbing rose in moist but well-drained, fertile soil. Most climbing roses do best in full sun, but some are more tolerant of shade. Seek advice from a specialist rose nursery if you’re looking for a climbing rose for shade, the will have a few options for you.


How to plant climbing roses

How to grow climbing roses - how to plant a climbing rose
How to grow climbing roses – how to plant a climbing rose

You can buy climbing roses as container-grown plants at any time of the year, while bare-root climbing roses are available to buy in autumn and winter – this is often how specialist nurseries send out mail-order roses.

Plant your climbing rose on a dry, frost-free day. Dig a hole at least twice the depth and width of the root ball and add in some well-rotted organic matter. Tease out the roots and drop the plant into the hole, ensuring that it’s planted at the same depth it was in the pot, or look for a soil ‘tide mark’ on the stem. Backfill and firm in place with your heel, and water in well.

Train your climbing rose up a supports such as a wire frame, pergola or obelisk, and prune out any stems that are growing in the wrong direction.


How to care for climbing roses

How to grow climbing roses - how to care for climbing rose
How to grow climbing roses – how to care for climbing rose

Deadhead climbing roses after flowering to encourage a second flush of flowers. Train in new stems regularly.

Feed plants in spring with a balanced fertiliser. Clear up fallen leaves to prevent the spread of fungal infections such as rust and blackspot. Mulch the soil in autumn with well-rotted manure, leaf mould or compost.


How to prune climbing roses

How to grow climbing roses - how to prune a climbing rose
How to grow climbing roses – how to prune a climbing rose

For the first few years after planting there’s no need to prune climbing roses. Simply train in new stems to their support.

As your climbing rose becomes established, it’s important to train new stems horizontally every autumn, to encourage flowering. In this Gardeners’ World video clip, Monty Don shows you how to tie in new stems to create a well-spaced, tangle-free framework, ensuring there are no loose stems to be blown around in winter:

Prune climbing roses in autumn, after flowering. Leave the main framework of stems unpruned, unless they’re reaching beyond their supports. Simply prune the side shoots to four healthy buds.

When pruning climbers, cut just above a bud that points in the direction that you want a new stem. Avoid cutting above a bud that will direct growth to the garden path, for example.


How to propagate climbing roses

How to grow climbing roses - how to propagate climbing roses
How to grow climbing roses – how to propagate climbing roses

Propagate climbing roses from hardwood cuttings or semi-ripe cuttings. Hardwood cuttings are take in winter when the plant is dormant, semi-ripe cuttings are taken in late summer after flowering.

To take semi-ripe cuttings, cut just above a bud to remove a mature side shoot, around 10cm long. Use a sharp pair of secateurs. Cut off the soft tip just above a bud. Fill a plastic garden pot with cutting compost and water. Insert half of the cutting in the compost making sure that the cutting is the right way up.

Cover with a clear plastic bag and place in a frost-free and light place. By the following spring cuttings should have rooted and be ready to pot on.


Growing climbing roses: problem solving

How to grow climbing roses - problem-solving
How to grow climbing roses – problem-solving

Roses can be prone to rust. Small brown marks appear on the lower surface of leaves. This is a fungal disease spread by spores. To resolve this, remove all the affected leaves and mulch the spot to stop any fungal spores in the soil spreading by rain splash.

Some roses will produce suckers at the base. If not removed they’ll take over. They’re shoots that grow directly from the rootstock on which some roses are grown, and are not true to type. Simply pull away suckers as soon as you spot them.


Climbing rose varieties to grow

Rosa 'A Shropshire Lad'
Pale pink, double flowers of Rosa ‘A Shropshire Lad’
  • Rosa ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ – an old fashioned rose. Pale pink, double, scented flowers in July to September. Height 4.5m
  • Rosa ‘New Dawn’ – pale pink flowers from July to September. A vigorous climber reaching 3.5m
  • Rosa ‘Gloire de Dijon’ – yellow/apricot double flowers from July to September. Intense fragrance. Reaches a height of 5m
  • Rosa ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’ – a thornless, deep-pink, double flowering roses. Fragrant. Height 3m

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