How to Train and Grow Climbing Roses

Teach Your Roses to Produce Plenty of Blooms

Front view of climbing roses growing over top of a trellis

The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $20 to $150 (cost of trellis)

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

Materials

  • Sturdy trellis
  • Plastic, stretchy plant tape
  • Climbing roses

Instructions

Materials needed to train climbing roses

The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

Trellis Training

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.

  1. Place the Trellis

    Attach the rose trellis at least 3 inches away from an outer wall. Choose a sunny location with proper drainage.

    Placing the trellis in the ground

    The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

  2. 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.

    Securing the roses to the trellis with ties

    The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

  3. Train the Canes

    Gently bend some of the new canes, so they grow outward to cover more of the trellis.

    Gently bending the canes around the trellis

    The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

  4. 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.

    Keeping up with pruning the climbing roses

    The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

  5. Prune the Weak Canes

    Remove the weak canes so the plant can focus its energy on a few solid main canes.

    Tip

    Always cut faded flowers to encourage more to form. Cut back climbing roses in early spring while they are still dormant. Faded roses are an excellent ingredient in potpourri.

    Pruning weak canes off the climbing roses

    The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

Self-Pegging Roses

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.

  1. Prune the Roses

    Start by pruning your roses, removing weak growth and old leaves.

    Routine pruning and deadheading climbing roses

    The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

  2. 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.

    Bending the strongest rose canes downwards

    The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

  3. 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.

    Working with the smaller rose canes

    The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

  4. 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.

    Tip

    Self-pegging works only if your climbing roses have supple canes that bend without breaking. Only self-peg canes that are at least 8 to 10 feet long. If the canes aren't long enough, allow them to continue growing until they are. 

    It's best to self-peg during the same time of year that you'd ordinarily prune your roses (which varies depending on your location). 

    Evaluating climbing roses every year

    The Spruce / Jayme Burrows

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
Fourth of July Rose
Rosa 'Fourth of July' Michael Davis/Photolibrary/Getty Images
Eden Rose
Rosa 'Eden' Maria Mosolova/Photolibrary/Getty Images
Rosa 'American Beauty'
Rosa 'American Beauty'

Krzysztof Ziarnek / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Rosa 'Iceberg'
Rosa 'Iceberg'

T.Kiya from Japan / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

Rosa 'Cecile Brunner'
Rosa 'Cecile Brunner'

Malcolm Manners / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Growing Roses. Clemson University Extension