Climbing Rose

Climbing Rose

Climbing roses are one of our customers' favorite types of roses. They add grace & nostalgia to any garden. From the classic tea rose to the charming country garden blossom, use them on walls & fences, pillar & post, trellis or entrance way. An added bonus is that they require very little pruning. Almost all are repeat bloomers unless noted.

Climbing Roses are generally mutations or sports of normal bush roses (Hybrid Tea and Floribunda Types) though are sometimes specifically bred.

Climbing roses are better for growing against a wall than Ramblers. They are less likely to suffer from mildew because of the poor air circulation. Climbers can also be grown against a fence or through a trellis.

If grown against a wall, then train along galvanised fence wire strung between vine eye nail driven into the wall. The aim will be to get as many horizontal rose shoots as possible.
      Climbers are often allowed to grow vertically - as is their normal habit. However, if grown in this way, then there are fewer shoots, resulting in fewer flowers. It is far better to train the main stems of the climber in a horizontal manner along a fence or trellis. This will then result in many more shoots - growing horizontally - with resulting larger numbers of blooms.

Probably, climbing roses are as easy to grow as any plants which are admitted to the garden. They will endure all sorts of conditions and much neglect. About the only way to make them fail is to plant them upside down.

But we do not want climbing roses in our gardens which merely exist. We want vigorous, full-bodied plants with luxuriant foliage and abundant bloom, brilliant, fragrant, and long-lasting. To achieve such results it is necessary to give climbing roses something more than the casual attention which ordinary shrubs and perennials receive.


If there is room for only one or two climbing roses in the garden, the chances are that there is little doubt about the place to plant them. They simply must make the best of whatever the situation affords. But if there is an opportunity to choose a place for them, select a site open to the sun for most of the day, free from enclosing trees or walls which shut out active circulation of air, and preferably on a slope and on porous soil, so that the drainage may be perfect underground.

Bear in mind that climbing roses may grow to be tremendous shrubs. The strongest of them think nothing of reaching thirty to forty feet in a few years. If left alone, they usually check their rapid growth when normal dimensions have been attained, but by pruning we continually compel climbing roses to renew themselves, thus keeping them in a constant state of active growth which makes heavy demands upon the fertility and moisture of the soil.

Consequently, to prepare the ground adequately for a climbing rose is a prime requisite for success. The soil ought to be naturally rich, or be made so. Though climbing roses will grow on poor soil more successfully than other kinds of roses, the fact remains that the better we treat them the better they will treat us.

For best results, make a hole for each plant three feet in diameter and not less than two feet deep. If the soil is sticky clay in the bottom of the hole, remove enough more to allow room for six to eight inches of broken stones or cinders for drainage, but make certain that an outlet for this drainage is provided, otherwise a water-tight tank will be formed, soggy at the bottom, which will rot off the tender rootlets and eventually destroy the rose.

Mix about one-third well-rotted manure with the best available soil for the rose to grow in. If chopped sod is obtainable, a moderate quantity laid over the drainage before filling the hole will materially improve the fertility of the soil. If well-rotted manure is not to be had, garden compost, reinforced with commercial fertilizers, will do just as well; but do not, in anxiety to provide extraordinary richness, err on the side of making the soil too light and fluffy. All roses delight in a heavy clay soil, and gardens which are blessed with a deep, strong loam ought not be tampered with too much.

Supports upon which the roses are to be trained should be put in place either before or while the holes are being dug for the plants. To put them in afterwards is much harder and is likely to cause damage to the roots of the roses.

All this preparatory work had better be done several weeks before it is time to plant the roses, in order to allow the fertilizer and the soil to become incorporated with each other and to let the disturbed earth settle again firmly into place. Roses do not like to grow in loose ground.


Before we can plant a rose we must have the rose to plant. The best place to get good rose plants is from a nursery of established reputation. In buying roses, the same as buying anything close, quality counts. It must be remembered that roses are perishable, and the careful buyer will make certain that the plants he gets have been properly cared for from the time they were dug in the nursery field until they reach his garden. This kind of care costs money, and it is not at all unusual or unfair that those nurserymen and dealers who take proper care of their plants should charge more for them. The plants are worth it; they cost more, as things of high quality usually do. Although climbing roses have great vitality, frequently making big plants quickly from small and unpromising beginnings, cheap, "bargain" plants are outrageously expensive in the end, because they either die or do not prosper, and often are not true to name, grievously disappointing the purchaser when, as, and if, they do bloom.

The best kind of climbing rose to buy is one that has grown two years in the open ground. It makes little difference whether it is own-root or budded, for almost all climbing roses strike easily from cuttings and are vigorous enough to make healthy, robust growth on their own roots. There is no need to be arbitrary about it. The important thing is that the plant should be vigorous and accustomed to outdoor life.

As a matter of fact, almost all nursery-grown climbing roses are budded plants, as roses of other types are, since the production departments of nurseries find it easier to pursue the same method in producing climbing roses as for propagating roses of other types.


Climbing roses may be planted in the garden either in autumn or spring in northern climates, and throughout the winter in the South. In the North, the only difficulty attendant upon winter planting is the danger of the ground becoming frozen before properly ripened plants can be obtained from nurseries located in milder climates. In order to forestall this danger, the ground may be prepared early in the autumn and protected from frost by covering it with a layer of manure or boards which will keep out the frost.

Autumn-planted roses need some protection from cold and dryness during the winter. It seems strange to speak of dryness in connection with a northern winter, but if the ground is frozen solid about the roots of a plant, they cannot function and are consequently unable to replace the moisture which the cold, dry air evaporates from the stems. This condition may be prevented by covering the plant almost entirely with earth.

In spring the same danger may be encountered for a different reason. The spring winds are often extremely dry, and the canes of newly planted roses are likely to be prematurely withered before the roots can get into action. Covering the plants with little hills of earth is insurance against the occurrence of such a disaster.

The act of planting a climbing rose is no different from the planting of any other kind of rose or shrub. Protect the roots from drying from the time the roses are received until they are covered with soil. Make the hole big enough to receive the roots without twisting or bending, and sift the soil among them in such a way that they lie in the ground in approximately the same relation to it as they did before the plant was lifted from the nursery. Remember that roses like to grow in firm ground, and make sure that the soil is packed tightly as it is placed around the roots. Do not be afraid to tramp it firmly until it refuses to yield any more. If the ground is very dry, a bucket of water in each hole before it is completely filled with earth will alleviate the situation. But this is seldom necessary except in periods of drought.

As a rule, nurserymen shorten the tops of all roses before they ship them. If this has not been done before planting, remove all the canes except two or three, and reduce their length to about twelve inches in the autumn, or six inches in the spring. This seems like a very drastic procedure, but results will justify it. Experiments without number have been made to prove that roses could be transplanted without removing most of the branches, and many such experiments have succeeded in keeping the plants alive, but in only very few instances have they amounted to much until they killed off the old wood and restored themselves entirely by new growth. So it might just as well be done first as last.

A climbing rose planted in the autumn, winter, or early spring should begin growth as soon as the buds of deciduous trees begin to burst. Under normal conditions, ordinary strong-growing climbing roses will produce several canes six to eight feet long the first year. These canes should be fastened to the support as they grow, or they may be allowed to sprawl as they will over the ground, if there is no particular need for neatness. Generally, it is better to train the canes around the support while they are young and pliable, at least a few of them, in order that there may be bloom at the bottom of the plant as well as at the top.


Climbing roses are not immune to the diseases and insects which attack other rose bushes. Blackspot, while not as pestiferous on climbing roses as it is on Hybrid Perpetuals, Hybrid Teas, and other bedding roses, nevertheless must be contended with, and mildew is one of the greatest enemies that climbing roses have to face.

For black-spot, the well-known garden fungicide, Bordeaux mixture, applied every two weeks throughout the season, is effective. Experiments conducted by Cornell University, with the support of the American Rose Society, have proved that black-spot can also be controlled by dusting the plants every fortnight with a fine, impalpable powder, known as "Massey dust," made of nine parts sulphur and one part lead arsenate. Various other materials and means of control are offered as proprietary articles, most of which have some merit and a few of which are good.

The curse of mildew, which afflicts climbing roses particularly, is generally controlled by the methods used to combat black-spot, but a greater freedom from mildew may be hoped for if the plants are grown in a properly ventilated location. Mildew is far more prevalent in tightly inclosed gardens and on plants which grow in the angles of buildings or on walls. Temporary relief may be afforded from mildew by spraying the plants with a strong solution of baking-soda (sodium bicarbonate) but this is not lasting, and cannot be relied upon to keep the foliage free from the fungus.

The buds and flowers of climbing roses are likely to be eaten by rose-bugs, Japanese beetles, and other pests, and the foliage also appeals to the appetites of slugs, worms, and larvx of numerous vicious insects. The one and only cure for that sort of thing is to put poison on the plants.

The most effective form of poison is arsenate of lead, which should be applied according to the method recommended by the manufacturers on the package, either as a dust or as a spray. The "Massey dust" includes one-tenth arsenate of lead, and, if used persistently as recommended, should repulse or kill all such marauders.

The green lice which congregate at the tips of growing shoots and envelop the buds at times, do not eat in the ordinary sense. They are true bugs as the zoologists define bugs. That is, they have beaks which they insert under the bark of the plant and through them suck the juices which ought to nourish the buds and flowers. These malevolent little beasts, in common with all insects, breathe through tiny holes along the sides of their bodies. They can be killed by stopping up those holes with soapsuds, oil, or some other viscous material, and their breathing apparatus can be paralyzed by some narcotic, such as nicotine or pyrethrum. Various preparations are on the market for controlling these aphides or plant-lice. The best of them have a base of nicotine sulphate or pyrethrum extract.    A thing that needs to be noted, especially in fighting plant-lice which breed so prolifically, is that they are often packed on the plants two or three layers deep. No matter how thoroughly the spraying is done, only the outer layers can be reached at one time. This means that the spraying must be repeated once or twice in order to slaughter the inmost and final layer. Good cultivators always spray for aphides three days in succession. This

method will clear the plants of the pests for several weeks. Spraying need not be repeated for that purpose within that time.

The important thing that every gardener must learn is that no matter what he sprays with, or what he dusts with, the thoroughness with which he does it is more important than the material. It is not enough to point the spray-gun in the general direction of the plant and squirt. The gardener must see to it that the plant is thoroughly enveloped in dust or drenched with spray from top to bottom, on both sides of the foliage, in order that every portion may receive its protective coating.


In the southern states, climbing roses need no protection at all in the winter. Moving toward the North, the same is true until we reach a climate where the thermometer ordinarily falls below zero for extended periods. In such climates, climbing roses need some protection, especially those which have been newly planted. The necessity for this protection will suggest to intelligent gardeners the importance of training climbing roses in such a fashion that they can be protected easily. Where it is possible to spread a protecting mat or carpet over the face of a wall on which roses are growing, advantage should be taken of the opportunity. Pillars should be arranged that they may be wrapped from the base to the top with straw or some other protective material without too much trouble, or they may be hinged or detachable from the ground in a manner spoken of in the previous chapter. 

Pending the time when a race of climbing roses which is immune to frost and winter damage has arrived, those gardeners who grow roses in the more severe climates (twenty degrees below zero for many weeks) must reconcile themselves to the work of taking down their climbing roses in the fall and covering them either with soil or leaves for the winter. A shelter over the canes which will shed water and keep off the rays of the winter sun is much more effective than a heavy, thick, wet, soggy protection which may rot the canes. Earth is the best of all materials.

Where the climate is not so severe that it requires the removal of the roses from their supports, the late autumn and early winter months can be profitably spent by tying in canes which become dislodged in the wind and making everything snug and fast against the winter blasts. Roses can do considerable damage to themselves and to each other by rubbing off the bark where it comes in contact with other canes or their supports, or by slashing themselves with their thorns as they are knocked about in the wind.

As spring approaches, the buds on climbing roses begin to swell very early, and this swelling is an indication that the protective material may be lessened as the season advances. It is well to keep a light shelter over plants which have been heavily protected during the winter, until the tenderness caused by the close confinement has been somewhat hardened by exposure to the spring atmosphere.

Naturally, one of the first jobs the second spring after planting is to tie up those roses which have been laid down for the winter and to make fast canes which have become dislodged. The second season should bring into bloom climbing roses of almost all types, and a fair crop for the size of the plants may be expected. It is doubtful whether any pruning is advisable for climbing roses that year. I rather believe that a climbing rose ought to be left unpruned until it has achieved at least three years' growth after planting.

Pruning Climbing Roses

This need present no difficulty, although it is true it seems to puzzle many rose growers of some years' standing. But, as a rule, where they err is not in pruning the plants insufficiently, but in pruning them too much. While systematic and regular pruning is good for the dwarf roses, climbing varieties, as a rule, are all the better for light pruning. The best blooms of a climbing rose are produced by one-year-old growths and, theoretically, the shoots that have bloomed should be cut out as soon as the flowers are over, so that fresh growths may be encouraged to take their places. This is certainly correct advice,, but some sorts are so accommodating that the removal of the older growths may often be dispensed with. They are found among the wichuraiana varieties. These bloom so freely, even from the side shoots that form on the two- and three-year-old stems, that it is a pity to cut them out as long as there is room for them. Of course, preference is always given to the youngest, and it is unwise to crowd the growths together, or in aiming at getting a superabundance of blossom the grower may find that unhappily he obtains none at all worth having. Thus, while liberties may be taken with the Dorothy Perkins class of rose that would lead to disappointment with other kinds, it should not be forgotten that no rose will bloom well if its growths have not a fair share of sunshine and fresh air. Here are the names of a few that may be neglected for two or three years so far as pruning is concerned and be none the worse for it, and in the garden of the inexperienced grower they may conceivably be all the better:-Dorothy Perkins and its first cousin, if not its sister, Lady Gay, Auguste Barbier, Alberic Barbier, Tausendschon, Minnehaha, Hiawatha, White Dorothy Perkins, Jersey Beauty, Elisa Robinson, Gardenia, Lady Godiva, Joseph Billard, and Edmond Proust.

Climbing roses belonging to the multiflora class, of which Crimson Rambler is a type,- are not to be treated so cavalierly in the matter of pruning. There is a great difference in the quality of the blooms produced by one-year-old growths and those of greater age. The shoots of the previous year's growth yield fine flower bunches direct from the main stem, but all other growths bloom only from comparatively weak side shoots, and their flowers are not to be compared with those from younger stems. It is thus not wise to take liberties with Crimson Rambler and its near relations, or they will retaliate by rewarding the gardener in negative fashion in the matter of blossom. Let me name a few of these near relatives so that the reader may be forewarned, and treat them with the respect that they at any rate seem to think is their due. Some of the most familiar are Aglaia, Blush Rambler, Crimson Rambler, Electra, H61&e, Leuchtstern, Mrs. Flight, Philadelphia Rambler, Psyche, Rubin, and Waltham Rambler. " Cut out the old, train in the new " should be the grower's motto in dealing with these.

Training Climbing Roses

Criss-crossing climbing rose bushes at the bottom going all the way up, will result in flowers from top to bottom, giving you a stunningly beautiful rose covered arbor.

If you don't, you will mostly end up with flowers at the top and bare 'legs' at the bottom and sides, and not a very beautiful arbor.

The number of canes you choose depends on the size of your support and the age of the plant.

The rules for climbing rose bushes that bloom only ONCE in spring are bit different.

You must wait until AFTER they bloom to prune the flowering lateral canes back to about 2-4 inches.

You should also remove more of the older structural canes and replace them with new ones.

These new canes produce most of next season's blooms.

So if you prune these ONCE bloomers in the spring, you will not have any flowers that season, as they only bloom on last years growth.

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