Training a Climbing Rose

Climbing roses need a little different care from other types of rosebushes. Follow these steps to create a beautiful display in your garden.

Climbing Roses and Relaxation

Climbing Roses and Relaxation

Upholstered outdoor cushions and pillows create a comfortable seating area atop this stacked stone wall. A pink climbing rose breaks up the light gray fencing, and the color of the blooms relate to the colors of the pillows and cushion.

Photo by: Meg Messina

Meg Messina

Materials Needed

  • shovel
  • trellis
  • pruners
  • compost or fertilizer
  • plant ties

Step 1: Choose a Suitable Support 

Climbing roses produce two kinds of shoots: the main structural canes and the flowering shoots, which grow from the canes. The long structural canes must be tied or woven into a support to keep the flowers off the ground. Roses produce more flowers when the structural canes grow horizontally, such as along a fence, than when grown vertically, as on a rose tower. When selecting a trellis, also consider ease of access for pruning and the trellis's ability to hold the weight of a full-grown rose in wet and windy weather.

Step 2: Install the Trellis

Be sure the support is firmly anchored in the ground and strong enough for the mature weight of the plants. If growing against a building, position the trellis a few feet from the wall to allow for air circulation and maintenance. Place it at right angles to the prevailing wind or in a sheltered spot in very windy areas.

Step 3: Plant Your Roses 

Dig a hole twice as wide as the root spread and about 2 feet deep, with the center about 18 to 30 inches from the support. If planting a bare-root rose, make a cone of soil in the center of the hole on which to drape the roots. Plant the graft union, the bulge where the top joins the bottom, 2 to 6 inches below the soil line in cold-winter climates and slightly above the soil level in warmer regions. Adjust the soil level under the plant accordingly. Water deeply, then spread compost or well-rotted manure and a handful of bonemeal other phosphorus-rich fertlizer around the plant, and water again. Spread a mulch of wood chips, cocoa bean hulls, or the like around the plant, taking care not to heap the material around the rose's trunk.

Step 4: Attach the Canes

Select the sturdiest structural canes and tie them loosely to the support with strips of stretchy cloth, such as pantyhose. Space the canes evenly and as close to horizontal as possible.

Step 5: Maintain and Enjoy

Allow climbers to grow unpruned (except to remove dead or broken branches) for two or three years. On established plants, prune dead, damaged and overcrowded canes to the base. Tie in new canes to replace them. Prune the flowering side-shoots to two to three buds above the structural canes during the dormant season. Want a more showy display? Plant a clematis vine 2 to 3 feet away from your climbing rose and train them to grow together.

Keep Reading

Next Up

How To Prune Clematis

Learn what you need to know to keep your clematis vine looking its best.

Transplanting Climbing Roses

How to transplant an overgrown climbing rose.

Overly Thorny Rose Bush

Find out what could be wrong if your rose bush starts producing lots of thorns.

Problems With Potted Roses in Desert

Find out why some potted roses do better than others in this warm area.

Enjoy a Parade of Roses

Today's roses can bring new life into a landscape or renew memories of yesteryear.

Grow Award-Winning Roses at Home

Rose expert the Redneck Rosarian shares tips on growing roses.

Planting a Bare-Root Rose

Get roses off to the best possible start by choosing growing sites carefully and then planting them using techniques most suitable for your climate. Bare-root rose plants—those sold without soil—offer the best value and grow quickly after planting.

Renovating a Flowering Shrub

To reduce shrubs' size and width and rejuvenate them, follow these pruning techniques.

How to Grow Roses

Roses are easier to grow than you think. Follow these steps to get started.

Pruning in Southern California

When is the best time to prune a rose where it doesn't go dormant?

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.