Climbing roses are actually large rose bushes 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 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.
It's quite possible to train your climbing rose to produce more blooms, but it does take a bit of work. Two training methods work best: you can train your climbing rose against a trellis or self-peg its long canes. Regardless of the training method you use, the result is a climbing rose that produces more beautiful blooms than ever before.
Equipment / Tools
- Pruning shears
- Thorn-proof gloves
- Sturdy trellis
- Plastic, stretchy plant tape
- Climbing roses
Training a climbing rose is an important part of creating a cascading, heavily blooming rose specimen. Trellis training, while a bit more expensive than self-pegging, does add a pretty, blooming trellis to your garden landscape.
Place the Trellis
Attach the rose trellis at least 3 inches away from an outer wall.
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. Every three years, cut out some of the older canes and allow new, younger canes to replace them.
Prune the Weak Canes
Always remove the weak canes so that the plant can focus strength into a few strong main canes.
Always cut faded flowers to encourage more to form. Cut back climbing roses in early spring, while they are still dormant.
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 fairly 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, 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 other areas where you don't want it to climb.
Like trellis training, self-pegging takes place over the course of years. While your plant will start producing more blooms almost immediately, you'll need to 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 strongest 4 to 6 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 base of each cane using the 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 1 or 2 with new canes to promote healthy plants and vigorous flowering.
Self-pegging works only if your climbing roses have supple canes that can bend without breaking. Only self-peg canes that are at least 8 to 10 feet long. If the canes aren't long enough yet, 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).