How to Grow Climbing Roses

My Garden Life
April 13, 2022
Table of Contents
Roses are one the most popular flowers of all, thanks to their beautiful versatility that can grace gardens of all kinds. There’s a huge variety of rose types to choose from, but one of the most dramatic, and easiest to grow, is the climbing rose.

Close-up of pink climbing rose bush in full bloom

Known more formally as Rosa hybrid, the climbing rose is an ideal way to cover a wall, fence, or arch with a blaze of summer color while also filling your garden with scent. And what’s more, climbing roses are a straightforward plant to cultivate and care for.

How to Grow Climbing Roses: Selecting Your Variety

Pink climbing rose in full flower, shrub is slightly covering a white picket fence

There’s a wide selection of climbing rose cultivars available, and considering that the plant can thrive for decades, it’s important to choose a variety you’ll be happy with. When looking for the best climbing rose variety to grow, consider whether you’d prefer single or double flowers, and which of the many colors will best fit into your garden. Climbing roses are available in shades from white through pink to red and yellow.
You can also choose climbing rose varieties bred for their scent, or ones that are almost scentless and won’t compete with highly perfumed neighboring plants. If you’re growing the rose next to a pathway or around a doorway, you might like to choose a thornless variety for safety. And lastly, consider opting for a disease-resistant rose to make growing this forgiving flower even easier.

Choosing The Best Position for Your Climbing Rose

Climbing rose trained to a trellis attached to the side of a house covered with burgundy colored roses

Climbing roses prefer full sun, although they can tolerate partial shade with lower blooming levels. But when you’re choosing the location, bear in mind that some mature plants can reach 12 feet (3.5m) in height and spread, so be sure to allow enough space. Also, if you can, place the plant a foot or two away from any wall or fence, to give the roots room to grow.

How to Plant a Climbing Rose

1. Climbing roses are best planted in early spring, while they’re still dormant. Once you’ve selected your planting area, dig a hole to the depth of your rose plant’s root ball, making it three times as wide. Mix the removed soil with a little well-rotted compost to enrich its nutrient levels.

Woman with gloved hands cutting the packaging off the root ball of a rose plant ready for planting

2. Slip the rose plant out of its container, tapping on the sides if necessary to ease it out, taking care to avoid any root damage.
3. Set the root ball down into the hole and remove any protective wrapping. If the roots look tightly packed, loosen them gently with your fingers, again being careful to avoid damage.

Gloved hand setting a new rose plant into a hole in a lawn

4. Refill the hole with the soil and compost mix, tamping it down firmly, until the top of the root ball is just below the surface.

Woman watering a newly planted rose bush

5. Finally, water well, and add 2 inches (5 cm) of organic mulch to maintain moisture, leaving 4 inches (10 cm) clear around the stem to prevent rotting.

Climbing Rose – Ongoing Care

Woman on a sunny day watering a climbing red rose plant on a wooden trellis

Climbing roses are thirsty plants, and in dry weather a weekly deep watering might be needed, especially when establishing a new plant. It’s better to give climbing roses a good soaking every few days rather than a constant flow of light irrigation, as this will encourage stronger roots for a healthier plant and better drought resistance.
After around two years of growth, the plant should be able to cope with natural rainfall alone, except in particularly dry areas.

Gloved hand in a rose garden displaying a handful of granular rose fertilizer

Climbing roses don’t need constant feeding, but adding a balanced general-purpose fertilizer each spring will help growth and flower production. Also consider top-dressing with compost, rotted manure, or leaf mold each year after flowering is over.

How to Train a Climbing Rose

Climbing rose on a wooden trellis with clusters of vibrant red rose clusters

For the best show of climbing rose flowers, the plant should be trained against a trellis or other support. Unlike plants such as wisteria which produce clinging tendrils, roses can use a little help as they make their way skyward.

Woman tying the canes of a climbing rose to a wooden trellis

As new canes sprout from the plant, bend them gently to the side so that they grow outward into an uncovered part of the trellis. Secure them in place using a stretchy plant tape, jute twine or twist tie, leaving some slack to accommodate the cane’s growth.

Pink climbing rose trained to heavy cord attached vertically to a brick pillar

Keep directing and securing new growth until the trellis surface is evenly covered. Remove any fading flowers to encourage new blooms.

How to Prune a Climbing Rose

woman wearing sturdy yellow leather gloves pruning a cane from a thorny rose plant

For the first few years of a climbing rose’s life, there’s no need to prune unless the plant is escaping from the area you want it to cover. Once the rose plant is the size and shape you’re looking for, start an annual pruning regimen by removing a few of the oldest canes each spring to encourage fresh new ones to form, therefore increasing the number of flowers.

Climbing rose with lush pink blooms growing on a metal trellis attached to an exterior wall

Also, tie in new canes as they grow to keep an even coverage, while removing any dead, damaged or weak canes as you go. Lastly, every three years or so, prune a little harder than usual to maintain the plant’s vigor.
For more information on climbing roses and their bushy relatives, read our articles Get to Know Roses and How to Fix 8 Common Rose Problems.
Luxurious deep red rose blooms on a climbing rose growing on a brown wooden trellis


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

How to Grow and Use Calendula Flowers

How to Grow and Use Calendula Flowers

Learn why calendula flowers, also known as “pot marigolds” or “English marigolds”, are one of the most versatile, long lasting, and useful plants in the garden!
When and How to Prune Hydrangeas

When and How to Prune Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas come in different forms and, not surprisingly, have different needs when it comes to pruning them. We have tips for trimming bigleaf, climbing, smooth and hardy hydrangeas.
How to Grow an Amaryllis Plant

How to Grow an Amaryllis Plant

Amaryllis have become as popular as poinsettias and Christmas cacti for living holiday decor. They’re fun to watch grow and their spectacular, trumpet-like flowers are a welcome sight during winter. Learn how to care for your amaryllis and encourage it to rebloom next year.

Related Posts

16 Flowers for Shade

16 Flowers for Shade

Space Constraint: Small Space Gardening

Space Constraint: Small Space Gardening

How to Root African Violets

How to Root African Violets

frost map with dates

Frost Map with Dates

USDA zone finder with zip code search and maps

USDA Zone Finder

plant library

Plant Library

Save plants to your personal library

Join My Garden Club to access more features

Already a member?
Log in now

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!