Climbing roses grace the trellises of English tearooms and the archways of European gardens. Climbing roses, a meandering sibling of the more traditional rose varieties, provides a unique floral embellishment to a garden landscape. Many growers believe that no garden is complete without some ornamental climbing roses.
Growing climbing roses for their intended purposes presents some challenges. Since they are not actual vines, which we know cling to the sides of buildings, fences and other structures, they don’t have their own support structure that attaches to surfaces. It is the job of the grower to manipulate the rose to weave and snake appropriately for the dramatic affect that only these roses can create.
Climbing rose enthusiasts loosely affix the rose to a pillar, wall, trellis, or any designated architectural feature. The goal is to encourage the plants to extend laterally, which means they will provide more blooms than they would if grown vertically. Other than training them to wander along surfaces, growing this variety of rose is not very different than growing other types of roses. These roses are known to do well in shade, but landscape professionals say they require a minimum of four to five hours of sun every day.
Before you begin to prep your yard or garden for these roses, figure out what length or height you envision. Climbing roses can grow up to 30-feet long. The length you decide on will be determined by the structure it is intended for. Your area climate is a factor in how tall your roses can grow, and you must choose a climbing rose type that is suited to all the variables of your particular landscape. Some come as ever bloomers which bloom repeatedly through the growing season, and others bloom only in the spring.
These roses also need very little pruning during their lifespan, and are not pruned at all in the first two years. If pruned every year, the plant will reduce its bloom production, in stark contrast to the effects of pruning on other rose varieties. Ultimately, climbing rose gardeners prune just once every three to four years. Even when they do prune the plants, their job is a simple task of removing old and small canes that form at the base of the plant. The more vigorous canes are easier to manipulate to grow into long, flexible lengths and to train to wind through and onto structure.
When winter is on the horizon, you need to take a few precautions with your these roses. Unwrap them from the structure to which they’re attached and wrap them in a protective insulating fabric to keep them from freezing. Next, place the climbers back onto the structure in their wrapped state. Cover the base of the plant with about one foot of soil or mulch and top with burlap to protect against the cold. When the winter passes and spring brings with it warmer weather, remove the coverings and attach the climbers back to the structure.With the right amount of patience and know-how, your climbing roses will be back from hibernation within a few weeks to bring beauty to your garden for months to come.