Beautiful Climbing Roses: How To Grow, Care For, and Prune Climbing Roses

If you are looking for something beautiful and a little unusual to add to your garden, then you should consider climbing rose bushes. These plants are easy to plant and care for, if you follow the points in this article.

Full blooming light pink Eden Climbing Rose
Full blooming light pink Eden Climbing Rose.

Climbing roses produce some of the most beautiful blooms to enhance both your garden and your home. Because it can be trained to grow on and around various supports, the climbing rose has become a staple decorative plant in both formal and informal gardens. It is also a magnificent feature of any bouquet.

Welcome to the world of climbing roses. When you have read this article, you will want to choose to have these beautiful plants in your garden – and will know how to plant and care for them.

What is a climbing Rose?

A rose that has long canes that grow upwards is known as a climbing rose.

Why are climbing roses special?

Climbing Roses on Trellis

Climbing roses can be trained to grow up trellises, along fences, over an archway – purely for decoration. They can help to define areas in your garden, or be turned into a feature along a wall/border.

The long canes of a climbing rose can be trained around posts and may also cover a pergola.

History of the climbing rose

Roses have been cultivated for millennia, being used to beautify gardens, homes and places of celebration.

One of the oldest and well-known varieties of climbing rose is the Banksia Rose, which was introduced into the west from China in the early 19th century. It is one of the thornless climbing roses, which makes it a lovely plant to have in your garden.

The Banksia is often described as a rambling rose, which is an ancestor of what we know as climbing roses.

Rambling roses vs climbing roses

Rambling roses flower only once, in a spectacular display, while climbing roses will flower throughout the summer with large flowers. They also grow more quickly and abundantly than climbing roses.

It is quite simple to prune a rambling rose, because what is required is to cut back the longer shoots. When pruning a climbing rose, you will need to be more specific, so that it produces good flowers.

Characteristics of the climbing rose bush

Red Climbing Roses

Climbing rose bushes are typically taller than their cousins and have long canes. They do not cling to a surface on their own, but need trellises (or similar) to hold onto. 

Like most roses, climbing roses prefer warm weather and sun. They bloom in summer.

Each of the canes produces one of the large flowers that are characteristic of climbing rose bushes. They bear abundantly and have full foliage.

Different Varieties of Climbing Roses

There are many types of climbing roses from which to choose. The Sweet Brier and Golden Shower are two popular and magnificent varieties to enjoy in your garden.

There are only some varieties that can tolerate semi-shade and most will need to be grown in full sun.

All roses flower in warm weather and will only tolerate a slight frost

This means that they will produce blooms from spring to early autumn. Depending on where you live, you may find that your roses may bloom later into the season.

Sweet Brier (R. rubiginosa)

Sweet Brier Rose
Sweet Brier Rose

The Sweet Brier is a deciduous or semi-green plant, with thorny stems. The flowers are crimson or red, making them stand out from their foliage and the surrounding plants.

This is a strong climber, with the canes sometimes being trained around a trellis. As such, it will make a lovely display along a wall.

You can also train the Sweet Brier around a post, making it a central feature in a section of your garden.

The flower of this climbing rose is fragrant, making it a welcome addition to your garden in summer. 

The Sweet Brier is very adaptable, thriving in either an exposed or sheltered position. It is best, though, in full sun. Because it can face in any direction, this is a lovely climbing rose to grow in any location.

As with most roses, this plant prefers moist, but well-drained soil.

Golden Showers

The Golden Shower flowers repeatedly throughout the season, producing blooms from midsummer to autumn. The flowers are large and range from golden yellow to lighter yellow.

It is a very adaptable plant and will grow in sun and shade – and in partial sunlight too. You can train the Golden Shower against a wall facing in any direction. 

This climbing rose bush will grow up to 180cm (6ft) tall.

Caring for climbing roses

Climbing roses care is an important part of growing these beautiful plants. They must be pruned annually and treated for disease and pests.

To keep your plants healthy, you will also need to water them regularly. Avoid getting the leaves too wet, though, as damp and humidity can encourage the growth of fungi that will affect the growth of the plants.

Planting and growing Climbing Roses

Climbing Roses on Square Archways

You can plant a climbing rose from seed or from seedling. Don’t plant the roses too close together, so that they have space to extend into. This will enable them to flower abundantly. They also need plenty of light and air.

Make sure that you plant the seeds, or small plants, in soil that is well-drained and contains some hummus. You should also choose a sheltered place.

Climbing roses will need a sturdy support to grow over, so this must be constructed before planting.

When the climbing rose bush is still young, it may not be ready to train. As the canes grow longer, they should be trained to go over the support. For a stronger blooming, the canes can be trained horizontally.

As your climbing rose bushes grow, they will need to be pruned regularly and carefully. It will take 2-3 years to be really established, so in a young plant, correct and regular pruning will encourage growth.

Climbing roses may need to be protected over the winter, because they can only tolerate a light frost. The canes may be covered with something like burlap during the colder months.

When To Plant Climbing Roses

Planting climbing roses in autumn and early spring is usually the best time, so that the roots may establish before they bloom. However, roses are quite adaptable. Depending on where you live, you could even plant them in the cooler months, but the young plants must be kept in a sheltered place.

Young plants should be cut back when planted, but if this is in autumn, then only prune in the spring.

Transplanting Climbing Rose Bushes

Transplanting A Rose Bush

When you transplant a climbing rose plant, remember that you will need to erect the support for the plant before transplanting.

After transplanting, the rose bush will need to be watered thoroughly.

Transplanting from a pot

Climbing roses can be transplanted at any time of year. You should choose a spot that does have shelter, but will get quite a lot of sun.

Either remove the support stake (or equivalent) from the pot when you transplant the rose, or replant this stake in the new location, so that the plant can continue to grow up it. You may also choose to erect another form of support for the plant in the new location.

Make sure that the hole you dig is at least twice as deep and wide as the container the rose is in. When you transplant the rose, place the whole root ball into the hole.

Mix compost and fertilizer into the soil you fill the hole in with. There are pre-mixed soil mixes available from nurseries or garden supply shops.

Transplanting an existing plant

Before transplanting an existing climbing rose bush, you will need to cut them back quite significantly.

To transplant the plant, begin by digging widely around the root ball, so that as many of the roots will be maintained as possible.

Make sure that the hole you dig is twice as wide as the diameter of the root bowl and twice as deep as the whole root system.

Place the whole plant in the hole and fill it in with soil that is enriched by compost.

Pruning Climbing Roses

Spring pruning roses in the garden
Spring pruning roses in the garden

Pruning climbing roses is important, so that the plant will grow strongly in the new season and produce good flowers for a long time.

You should plant in late autumn or winter, so that the new growth will begin as the weather warms up.

When you prune your climbing rose, you should get rid of any dead branches. You may not find all of these in winter, as some of them may only be detected when the plant starts growing.

The older, flowering branches can be cut back quite far, to encourage the newer shoots to grow. Cut shoots with flowers back by about a third.

If the plant is too congested, you should also get rid of any older branches.

The success of plant growth and blooming of your climbing rose bush will depend on careful pruning and training.

Renewing overgrown and unpruned plants

If you already have a climbing rose plant in your garden that has become overgrown, you will need to pay it special attention. Most importantly, get rid of dead or diseased branches – and some of the branches that are not flowering/leafy.

The flowering branches should also be cut back. 

If the plant is very overgrown and is particularly strong, it can be cut back right to the base, so that it will grow almost like a new plant.

Common Issues affecting climbing roses

Roses can suffer if they are not kept clear of diseases or pests.

One of the important things to do to help to control the diseases is to keep the plant itself and the area around it clear of infected leaves and canes.

It is usually possible to treat a climbing rose to prevent pests from invading the leaves.

Diseases

Black spot

Rose Bush Black Spot
A close up on a fungal rose disease black spot with infected yellow and green leaves which weakens the rose bush, and needs treatment.

Black spot is caused by a fungus. If the plant is infected, dark, round, spots will develop on top of the leaves. They begin as black, but progress to yellow on the outside of the circles. Eventually, the whole leaf will be covered and fall off.

The disease can stunt the growth of the plant and the leaves may all drop early in the season.

You can prevent black spot by spraying the young plants with a fungicide. If your climbing rose does get infected, the black spot can also be treated with a fungicide, but you ;should also make sure that the leaves do not stay damp.

If the plant is infected, then remove the infected leaves and canes from the plant, and the ground underneath it.

When you water the plants, make sure that you don’t wet the leaves too much. Rather soak the soil around the roots of the plant.

Powdery mildew

Rose Bush Powdery Mildew
Rose plant leaves and flower buds damaged by fungal disease powdery mildew.

Powdery mildew is caused by a fungus and appears as a white, powdery cover on the leaves and buds. It may also occur on the stems. If your climbing rose is affected by mildew, the leaves may fall and the plant may not bloom.

You may need to use a fungicide to treat the mildew, but the best way to prevent it is to follow some basic points when planting the plants:

  • Planting your climbing roses in full sun can prevent these conditions.
  • Make sure the soil is well-drained.
  • Make sure that the leaves can’t remain damp, because mildew thrives in humid conditions. Try to avoid watering in the early morning or in the evening.

Stem canker

Stem canker is caused by a fungus, which may get into the plant through a gap caused by injury, pruning, weather, or cutting flowers. 

The leaves will become discoloured, or die and drip off. If the fungus reaches the base of the plant, then it can kill the plant.

Stem canker may occur on plants that have already been weakened by disease or injury, so try to avoid injuring climbing rose bushes during transplanting, pruning, or flower cutting. If you prune a plant that has stem canker, make sure that you cut to at least 3 inches under the infected part. 

The plants may be protected further by removing all infected debris once having pruned the plants.

Rose Bush Pests

There are various pests that affect climbing roses, but the most common are aphids.

Aphids

Aphids are tiny, green insects that eat the roses as they are growing. The effects of an aphid infestation on your rose plant can vary from causing black leaves to killing the plants.

One way to get rid of aphids is to wash the leaves. This should be during the day, so that the leaves will dry quite quickly. If this doesn’t work, there are various insecticides in the form of soaps or oils that can be used.

Lady beetles are an aphid’s natural enemy and you can encourage more of these to your plants.

Spider mites

The leaves of the rose plants may have bleached spots on the, or be covered with webbing. To get rid of these pests, the leaves should be washed, or an insecticidal soap or oil can be used.

Creating Bouquets from Climbing Roses

Roses are a favourite amongst all flower lovers. They can form an attractive bouquet on their own, or be the focus of a mixed bouquet.

For a basic bouquet, you can pick several single blooms from one of your climbing rose bushes. You may wish to de-thorn the stems, remove all the leaves and arrange them in a long glass vase.

An alternative approach is to use single, large blooms from one climbing rose and a selection of smaller flowers from a rambling or climbing rose. If the roses are of different colours, the contrast will add to the appeal of the whole bouquet.

You may wish to break up the focus on the roses in a bouquet by using some greenery, or adding some other blooms. Using an unobtrusive flower like gypsophila can add variety without detracting from the focus on the roses.

Buying Climbing Rose Bushes

You can buy climbing rose bushes from your local nursery, or from an online site, such as NatureHills.com, where  you can buy various varieties of climbing roses, such as:

Zephirine Drouhin: a beautiful blushing pink rambling rose with small blooms

Blaze Improved Climbing Rose: with large cerise blooms

Where To Buy Rose Bouquets

Online stores are a perfect place to shop for rose bouquets.

FloristOne

Romantic bouquets include:

This Magic Moment – mixed gently coloured rose blooms

The Enchanting Moment bouquet: Mixed vibrantly coloured blooms

ProFlowers

The available bouquets include:

Rose All Day bouquet: Mixed bouquet of white and pastel roses of varied sizes.

Rainbow Rose bouquet: Vibrantly variegated roses in a colourful arrangement

Gardening supplies

To plant and work on your climbing roses, you will need to purchase at least:

  • A spade to dig over the soil and dig the hole to plant your climbing rose.
  • A trowel to dig in a pot, or to dig the climbing rose out of a pot when you transplant it.
  • Soil or soil mix, compost and fertilizer

These and any other supplies, you can purchase from your local nursery, or online from a site such as Eartheasy

Seeds

You can buy seeds for your roses from your local nursery, or garden supply store, or from an online site, such as Seedsnow.com.

Make sure that you buy seeds for climbing roses that will suit your area and your garden/yard.

FAQs

How do I prevent my climbing roses from getting diseases?

The best way to prevent your plants from getting a disease, such as black spot or powdery mildew, is to keep the area around the plant sanitised, by removing all infected leaves, stems and other parts of the plant from the surrounding area.

What is the best way to water my climbing roses?

Diseases on rose plants are often associated with humidity and damp. You can avoid this by watering the roots of the plants directly and not using overhead watering, especially in the evening or early morning.

What is the best way to reduce pests from rose leaves?

The leaves can be washed, just using water – or with an insecticidal soap or oil. You can also try to encourage the pests’ natural enemies to your plants.

Conclusion

Climbing roses are one of the oldest and most favourite types of roses that have decorated gardens for many years. They are beautiful plants that bloom for most of the warm months and can be trained to grow along a wall, or over a support, such as an arch in your garden.

These beautiful plants will need to be looked after, but are not high maintenance plants, so you will be able to cultivate a beautiful addition to your garden with a climbing rose bush.

There is a range of varieties of climbing rose available, so you will be able to find the perfect plant for your garden.

Leave a Comment