Climbing roses are the perfect plants to add height to a garden. The choice is huge, so take time to find the right climber.
There are climbing roses available in all the popular rose categories – hybrid tea roses, bourbons and English roses. Choose from double or single flowers, thornless or scented – the rose will live for decades so it’s worth getting it right. Climbers can be grown up house walls, along garden fences, over pergolas or up large obelisks.
More on growing roses:
- Rose types explained
- How to grow shrub and species roses
- How to grow ground cover roses
- How to grow rambling roses
- Rose problems solved
- Trouble-free roses
- What to grow with roses
Nearly all climbing roses offer more than one flush of flowers. Flowers are larger than those of the ramblers.
Discover more about these beautiful plants, in our climbing rose grow guide.
Where to plant climbing roses
The majority of climbers require a sunny position. However, with so much choice there are those that can flourish in more shady spots. Seek advice from a specialist rose nursery about finding the right rose for your spot.
The ideal soil for climbing roses is well-drained and fertile.
How to plant climbing roses
Climbers can be purchased as container-grown plants at any time of the year but must be kept well-watered if planted in summer.
Bare root plants are purchased in autumn and winter – this is often how specialist nurseries send out mail-order roses.
Plant on a dry, frost-free day as soon as possible. Dig a hole at least twice the depth and width of the root ball and add in some well-rotted organic matter. Tease out the roots and drop the plant into the hole ensuring that they are planted at the same depth as they were in the pot, or look for a soil mark on the plant. Backfill and firm in place with your heel and water in well.
Train plants up supports and prune out any stems that are growing in the wrong direction.
Propagating climbing roses
To take semi-ripe cuttings, cut just above a bud to remove a mature side shoots that is about 10cm long. Use a sharp pair of secateurs. Cut off the soft tip just above a bud. Fill a plastic garden pot with cutting compost and water. Insert half of the cutting in the compost making sure that the cutting is the right way up.
Cover with a clear plastic bag and place in a frost-free and light place. By the following spring cuttings should have rooted and be ready to pot on
Climbing roses: problem solving
Roses can be prone to rust. Small brown marks appear on the lower surface of leaves. This is a fungal disease spread by spores. To resolve this, remove all the affected leaves and in bad cases spray with a suitable fungicide.
To prevent rust, collect up fallen leaves and apply a mulch in autumn, as fungal spores are spread by rain splash.
How to prune climbing roses
For the first few years after planting there’s no need to prune climbing roses. Simply train in new stems to their support.
Prune in autumn, after flowering. Leave the main framework of stems unpruned, unless they’re reaching beyond their supports. Simply prune the side shoots to four healthy buds.
When pruning climbers, cut just above a bud that points in the direction that you want a new stem. Avoid cutting above a bud that will direct growth to the garden path, for example.
Looking after climbing roses
Deadhead after flowering to encourage a second flush of flowers. Train in new stems regularly.
Feed plants in spring with a balanced fertiliser. Clear up fallen leaves. Mulch the soil in autumn to prevent the spread of rust and black spot.
Some roses will produce suckers at the base. If not removed they’ll take over. They’re shoots that grow directly from the rootstock on which some roses are grown. Simply pull away suckers as soon as you spot them.
Climbing rose varieties to try
- Rosa ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ – an old fashioned rose. Pale pink, double, scented flowers in July to September. Height 4.5m
- Rosa ‘New Dawn’ – pale pink flowers from July to September. A vigorous climber reaching 3.5m
- Rosa ‘Gloire de Dijon’ – yellow/apricot double flowers from July to September. Intense fragrance. Reaches a height of 5m
- Rosa ‘Zéphirine Drouhin’ – a thornless, deep-pink, double flowering roses. Fragrant. Height 3m
- Rosa ‘A Shropshire Lad’ – peachy pink, double flowers with a fruity tea rose fragrance. Almost thornless. Height 4m