How to Train and Grow Climbing Roses
Teach Your Roses to Produce Plenty of Blooms
Climbing roses are large rose bushes that produce a single flower at the end of their long canes. Unlike true climbers like wisteria, climbing roses lack tendrils that can wrap around supports to strengthen the plant as it grows toward the sun. As a result, climbing roses quickly wind up with long, gangly-looking canes and few blooms. While this growth habit can be perfectly healthy, it's nothing like the photos of thickly-blooming climbing roses you see in magazines.
Training your climbing rose to produce more blooms is possible, but it takes some work. Two training methods work best: Train your climbing rose against a trellis or self-peg its long canes. Regardless of your training method, the result is a climbing rose that produces more beautiful blooms than ever before.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Pruning shears
- Thorn-proof gloves
- Sturdy trellis
- Plastic, stretchy plant tape
- Climbing roses
Training a climbing rose is essential in creating a cascading, heavily blooming rose specimen. While more expensive than self-pegging, trellis training adds a pretty, blooming trellis to your garden landscape.
Place the Trellis
Attach the rose trellis at least 3 inches away from an outer wall. Choose a sunny location with proper drainage.
Secure the Roses
Tie the stems of the climbing rose to the trellis with stretchy plastic plant tape as it grows throughout the year. Do not prune until the plant covers the entire trellis.
Train the Canes
Gently bend some of the new canes, so they grow outward to cover more of the trellis.
Keep up With Pruning
Snip off branches that are growing too thick. Cut out some of the older canes every three years and allow new, younger canes to replace them.
Prune the Weak Canes
Remove the weak canes so the plant can focus its energy on a few solid main canes.
Climbing rose bushes contain a hormone that inhibits the growth of more than one bloom per cane. This strategy works well for the plant because it ensures that the rose won't expend unnecessary energy on creating more blooms. Unfortunately for gardeners, long canes with just one bloom are pretty unattractive.
Self-pegging is a simple process of arching the long canes of climbing roses and tying them at the base of the plant. By doing this, you use gravity to inhibit the movement of the hormone, producing as many as 30 clusters of flowers on the same cane. At the same time, self-pegging prevents your climbing rose from spreading into other areas where you don't want it to climb.
Like trellis training, self-pegging takes place over the years. While your plant will start producing more blooms immediately, you must stay vigilant to keep your roses healthy and blooming.
Prune the Roses
Start by pruning your roses, removing weak growth and old leaves.
Bend the Strongest Canes
Select the most vigorous four to six canes. Gently bend each cane in a loop, so the top of the cane meets the base. Use thick gloves to handle the canes, and secure the tips to the bottom of each cane using plastic gardeners' tape. The growing tip should be 2 to 3 inches from the base of the cane.
Work With the Smaller Canes
When all the longer canes have been self-pegged, prune mid-sized canes and tuck them into the cage created by the longer self-pegged canes.
Adjust the Roses Annually
Each year, inspect your older canes and replace one or two with new canes to promote healthy plants and vigorous flowering.
Common Climbing Rose Varieties
- Fourth of July (Rosa 'Fourth of July'): Introduced in 1999 with candy cane coloring, disease resistance, and spicy scent; requires full sun and grows in USDA zones 5 through 10
- Eden (Rosa 'Eden'): French repeat-bloomer looks like an antique rose due to its double, cupped blooms in pink, cream, and yellow; requires full sun and grows in USDA zones 5 through 11
- American Beauty (Rosa 'American Beauty'): Deep, cupped dark pink rose that is hardy and tolerates shade; grows in USDA zones 5 to 9
- Iceberg (Rosa 'Iceberg'): Floribunda that grows vigorously up to about 15 feet and boasts profuse flowering and repeats extra-large blooms with full, ruffled blossoms; its flowers have little to no scent; grows in zones 4 to 9
- Cecile Brunner (Rosa 'Cecile Brunner'): Hybrid climbing tea rose shrub that can reach 20 feet tall and 6 feet in width with little clusters of blush-pink flowers with a sweet scent; blooms once in late spring or early summer; tolerates shade; grows in USDA zones 6 to 10
Growing Roses. Clemson University Extension