How to Train Climbing Roses

Teaching a Climbing Rose to Climb Outward and Upward

Climbing roses make a beautiful addition to the garden, but they don’t climb without help from the gardener. They just send out long shoots that wave around in the wind.

No plant in the garden is more romantic or dramatic than the climbing rose in June when its flowers smother an arbor or trellis. It’s easy to get that same look in most gardens.

Roses Don’t Climb Naturally

Roses don’t climb naturally. Those known as climbers are really just roses that send out very long shoots or canes. They have no suckers or tendrils to cling to anything, and if left unchecked, the canes would sway wildly with the breeze. Roses falling into this category need to be tied in to something for the best results.

Train Climbing Roses Horizontally

Roses bloom at the end of their canes. Climbing roses covered with flowers have simply sent out numerous shoots. To train a rose to send out even more shoots, the rose should be trained horizontally or at angles rather than straight up. This is why the rambling rose does so well. It’s a rose that grows horizontally easily all on its own without being forced by the gardener. Rambling roses are often seen tumbling along garden walls and fences, sending out numerous shoots from those long canes.

The canes of climbing roses can be carefully twisted around pillars or tied into curved arches. If much of the cane is horizontal, it will send out more branches and the flowers will become more abundant. The gardener could also pull the canes through a trellis or fence for the same result.

Since roses don’t have natural suckers or tendrils to cling to walls, pillars and arches, the gardener will have to tie them in and move the canes into a semi-horizontal manner. The height will still be achieved as more branches form from the main canes which are trained to grow in other directions, always at a slight angle moving upward.

Climbing Roses for Shorter Growing Seasons

There are numerous climbing roses for shorter growing seasons. In the north, the Explorer Roses offer lots of flowers. And for height, the best and most floriferous is the Explorer rose, William Baffin. It can reach 10′ or more with good training.

Other hardy climbers include New Dawn, Golden Showers and Albertine to name a few. In gardening zones 7 or higher, gardeners might consider Rosa longicupis, Seven Sisters or Danse du Feu. These can become huge climbers in the right environments and will need strong support. They will also grow in northern climates in gardening zones 4 or higher, but will need winter protection.

The worst damage in winter is caused by the drying winds. Wrap the canes in burlap and cover the base with a mound of soil mixed with mulch to about one foot high.

Be cautious when working with roses and wear good garden gloves. The prickly thorns hurt, cause damage to hands and can cause rose thorn disease.

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