How To Train And Grow Climbing Roses

Teach Your Roses to Produce Plenty of Blooms

Roses on a white wall.
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Climbing roses are actually just big shrubs that produce a single flower at the end of each of their long canes. Unlike true climbers, such as wisteria, climbing roses lack tendrils that can wrap around supports to lend strength to the plant as it rises toward the sun. As a result, climbing roses quickly wind up with long, gangly-looking canes and few blooms. While this type of plant can be perfectly healthy, it's nothing like the thickly-blooming photos of climbing roses you may find in magazines.

It's quite possible to train your climbing rose to produce more blooms, but it does take a bit of work. There are two good training methods; you can either train your climbing rose against a trellis or you can self-peg your plant's long canes. Either way, your garden will wind up with more beautiful roses than ever before.

Trellis Training

Training a climbing rose is an important part of creating a cascading, heavily blooming rose specimen. Trellis training, while it is a bit more expensive than self-pegging, does add a pretty, blooming trellis to your garden landscape. Once you've purposed your trellis at any garden store the process is simple and should take no more than an hour to get started.

What You Need 

  • Sturdy trellis
  • Soft strips of cloth
  • Sharp, clean pruning shears
  • Thornproof gloves
  • Climbing rose that grows in your garden zone

Process

  1. Attach the trellis at least 3 inches away from an outer wall.
  2. Tie the stems of the climbing rose to the trellis with soft cloth strips as it grows throughout the year. Do not prune until the rose covers the entire trellis.
  3. Gently bend some of the new canes so they grow outward to cover more of the trellis.
  4. Snip off branches that are growing too thickly. Every three years, cut out some of the older canes and allow new, younger canes to replace them.
  5. Always remove the weak canes so that the plant can focus strength into a few strong main canes.

Tips

  1. Always cut spent flowers to encourage more to form.
  2. Cut climbing roses in early spring, while still dormant.

Self Pegging Roses

Climbing roses have a hormone that inhibits the growth of more than one bloom per cane. This strategy works well for the plant, as it ensures that the rose will be fertilized without expending unnecessary energy on creating extra flowers. Unfortunately for gardeners, long canes with just one bloom are fairly unattractive.

Self-pegging is a simple process of arching the long canes of your climbing roses and tying them at the base of the plant. By doing this, you use gravity to inhibit the movement of the hormone, thus leading to the production of as many as 30 clusters of flowers on the same cane. At the same time, by self-pegging, you prevent your climbing rose from spreading into areas where they're not needed.

What You Need

  • pruning shears or clippers
  • gardeners’ soft plastic stretch tape
  • thick gloves

Process 

Like trellis training, self-pegging takes place over the course of years. While you'll start producing more blooms almost immediately, you'll need to stay vigilant to keep your roses healthy and blooming. Follow these tips for best results:

  1. Start by pruning your roses, removing weak growth and old leaves.
  2. Select the strongest 4–6 canes.
  3. Gently bend each cane in a loop so that the top of the cane meets the base. Use thick gloves to handle the canes, and secure the tips to the base of each cane using gardener's tape. The growing tip should be 2–3 inches from the base of the cane.
  4. Once 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.
  5. Each year, inspect your older canes and replace one or two with new canes to promote healthy plants and vigorous flowering.

Tips

  • Self-pegging works only if your climbing roses have supple canes that can bend without breaking.
  • It's best to self-peg during the same time of year that you'd ordinarily prune your roses (varies depending on your location). 
  • Only self-peg canes that are at least 8–10 feet long. If your canes aren't long enough yet, allow them to continue growing until they are.