Climbing roses: location, care & robust varieties

Virginia
Virginia
Virginia
Virginia

I study plant biotechnology and often find myself confronted with the serious consequences that lack of knowledge and misinformation can have for nature. That is why I am so passionate about bringing people and nature closer together again.

Favourite fruit: raspberries, strawberries and pineapple
Favourite vegetables: courgettes, broccoli and cucumbers

Climbing roses are very impressive in terms of the height of growth and abundance of flowers. Here you can find out what to consider for cultivation and care in your own garden.

Climbing roses on brick wall
Climbing roses can reach heights of up to 6 metres [Photo: Elena Elisseeva/ Shutterstock.com]

Climbing roses not only offer an incredible variety of colours and shapes of flowers and leaves, you can also use them to turn even the smallest garden into your own private paradise. Above all, these plants want to grow upwards. But for the rose arch or the facade of the house to become a flowering symbol of the Romanesque, nature needs a helping hand. Proper shaping, pruning and care will be rewarded with an abundance of flowers and dense growth.

Planting climbing roses

With proper care, climbing roses will live for several years and can reach heights of up to 6 metres. Therefore, a little more time should be invested in planning and finding a suitable location. Not only because the thoughtful choice of a location will allow your plant to really thrive. As well as that, it stops you from having to reach for the spade again within a short time to move the rose (Rosa) that has become too big to a new place. After all, this means not only stress for the plant, but also for you.

Location for climbing roses

Anything that grows high up to the sky, likes a lot of light and fresh air. So when choosing a location for your climbing roses, be sure to provide enough space at the top. This is because an airy space ensures that there is no build–up of heat, and allows wet plant parts to dry off. So later you will have fewer problems with pests and fungi infestation. But it is not only fresh air they need – these elegant plants like being bathed in sunlight just as much, if not more. Only a few varieties tolerate partial shade locations. Full sun, however, is too much of a good thing. It is best to keep a nice southeast or southwest spot in the garden for your climbing roses. Climbing roses grow not only high up, but also deep into the ground. Loose soil is therefore absolutely essential for climbing roses. The long roots grow very deep, and accordingly, the soil must be permeable. Make sure that there is no compaction in the soil to at least one metre deep.

Climbing rose on arch
Climbing roses grow beautifully over arches [Photo: Natalia van D/ Shutterstock.com]

Apart from that, the same applies to the soil for climbing roses:

  • Rich in nutrients
  • Sandy–loamy
  • Humus
  • Deep (min. 50 cm)
  • Medium-heavy to heavy
  • No waterlogging
  • Neutral pH

If you meet these conditions, climbing roses can be used in a variety of ways. Whether with practical added value as a privacy screen or simply as a visual highlight in the garden. Fragrant varieties on the facades of houses, gazebos or old tree trunks are particularly suitable for creating your own favourite spot.

Note: From high treetops, water drops fall not only a long way, but also quickly. So do not plant your roses under large trees, otherwise you’ll quickly find the flowers destroyed.

Sunlit pink climbing roses
For abundant flowering, the location of your climbing roses is important

Climbing roses in a pot: is it possible?

Even in a pot climbing roses can grow towards the sun. However, only small varieties are suitable for this purpose, and even they like it airy down below. Accordingly, the pot should be at least 50 cm deep and as wide as possible. There are also a few things to consider when caring for them in pots:

  • Put root ball in water 24 hours before planting
  • Soil: rose soil mixed with compost or slow-release fertiliser
  • Fertilise: April – July every 14 days with liquid fertiliser in the irrigation water
  • Watering: No waterlogging; good drainage layer at the bottom of the pot
  • Repotting: Every 2 – 3 years into a larger pot

The right time for planting

Here it depends on the condition in which the plants were purchased. Bare–root roses go into the ground either in the autumn or in the spring. Potted roses can also be planted in the summer. In addition, with so–called container roses, the root ball is better formed, you can often already see the first flowers and the planting distances can be better estimated. Spacing is determined not only by the natural growth of the plant, but also the shape you want later. Here, 30 to 50 cm to the climbing aid or 8 cm to the wall must be observed. Depending on the variety, the distance between plants should be from one and a half to two metres.

Fastening rambler rose to trellis
Securing your climbing roses to a trellis is important from the start [Photo: rigsbyphoto/ Shutterstock.com]

Otherwise, the following should be considered when planting climbing roses:

  • Root ball is placed in water 24 hours before planting
  • Loosen the soil to a depth of 50 – 100 cm
  • Planting hole: 30 – 40 cm depth
  • Grafting site finishes up about 5 cm below the ground when planting
  • Water well

Transplanting climbing roses

Climbing roses are not a short–term purchase. With proper care, they can grow and thrive for years. It can happen that the surrounding vegetation eventually takes the light and space from the plants. That is exactly when it is time for the high–flyers to move. The best time for this is a mild, frost–free day in the autumn, after the plant has shed its leaves. It is also possible to transplant in the spring, when the plant has not yet resprouted. However, the plants do not grow as quickly as in the autumn.

Person pruning a rose bush
We suggest pruning before transplanting [Photo: Radovan1/ Shutterstock.com]

Once you have found a new place for the climbing rose, simply proceed as follows:

  • Prepare planting hole in the new location
  • Heavy pruning of the climbing rose to be replanted
  • Dig trench (at least 2 spade blade lengths deep) around rootstock with spade
  • Carefully pry out the plant
  • Pinched and injured roots are removed
  • Water the plant well at the new location
  • Pile soil at the base of the plant (protection from drying out)

Heavy pruning refers to cutting the plant back to a few dormant eyes. The trench around the climbing rose to be replanted should be dug as deep as possible because of the deep roots of the roses. The more generously you dig, the less damage you do to the rootstock.

Note: If you want to plant a new rose in the place of a discarded rose, the majority of the soil must be replaced (rose fatigue!).

Supporting climbing roses

No matter which climbing rose you choose, a climbing support is always essential. In order for it to serve its purpose, you need to pay special attention to securing it. Once the construction is well-equipped against wind, rain and the weight load, the vegetation can be tackled. The shoots are attached differently depending on the type of climbing aid. On climbing columns, the shoots are placed in a spiral around the trellis. On trellises, tighten the long shoots in a fan shape or crosswise. Then loosely secure the shoots with raffia, plant clips or rubber–coated wire.

Tying climbing roses to trellis
The shoots are loosely fastened with raffia or wire [Photo: Matthewshutter/ Shutterstock.com]

What kind of climbing aid will be used is up to you and your creativity. Classic climbing aids made of metal or wood can be found in any hardware store with a garden centre. More unusual models are also available here or online. If you want to save money or customise your garden, you can put your crafting skills to the test. Just make sure that the materials used are weather resistant. And make sure that the homemade climbing support will not die before the roses.

Climbing rose varieties

There are two types of climbing roses. Firstly you have the actual climbing roses (also called climbers) and on the other hand you have rambler roses. They differ not only in terms of the height of growth but also in the timing of flowering. As well as that, the different varieties offer a huge range of flower colours and shapes.

Alley of different coloured roses
The combination of different colours looks especially beautiful [Photo: nnattalli/ Shutterstock.com]

Climbing roses: suitable species

What kind of climbing rose you choose depends on what you expect from the flowering climbers later. The actual climbing roses offer:

  • Repeat flowering
  • Height of growth: 1.5 – 3 metres
  • Thick, upright shoots
  • Flowers single or in clusters
  • More compact growth
  • Larger flowers

Those who want to go higher, opt for rambler roses. These are characterised by:

  • Once flowering
  • Height of growth: 6 – 10 metres
  • Good vigour
  • Medium strength and elastic shoots
  • Many small flowers

Thanks to intensive breeding, there are now also rambler rose varieties that bloom several times a year. However, the number of flowers is not quite as impressive.

Climbing roses: the most beautiful varieties

Depending on the variety, climbing roses bloom in white, salmon, orange, as well as shades of pink or red. They also differ in terms of the shape of their flowers There are single to highly double flowers. The time at which the flowers appear also varies from variety to variety. Here are a few especially beautiful more frequently flowering climbing rose varieties for you:

Yellow Elfe climbing rose
The variety Elfe offers double flowers in creamy yellow [Photo: Olga_Ionina/ Shutterstock.com]
  • Compassion: Double flowers of light salmon pink; strongly fragrant; height of growth: up to 2.5 metres; flowering: June – November; hardy; ADR rose
  • Florentina: Double flower of intense red; light fragrance; height of growth: up to 3 metres; flowering: June – September; winter hardy
  • Moonlight: Semi–double flower in lemon yellow; strong fruity fragrance; height of growth: up to 2.5 metres; flowering: June – September; hardy
  • Elfe: Double flower in creamy yellow with green shimmer; delicate fragrance; height of growth: up to 3 metres; flowering: June – September; half hardy; ideal for sunny locations
  • Aloha: Heavily double flower in apricot; strong fragrance; height of growth: up to 2.5 metres; flowering: June –October; half hardy

A larger selection of climbing rose varieties of the most diverse flower colours and shapes can be found here.

Plant care

The rose is also considered the queen of flowers. The older the climbing roses become, the more beautiful and lush bloom. But for your plants to shine in majestic splendour year after year, the care must be right. The following should be noted:

  • Watering: Frequently during the growing season, then only after prolonged dry periods
  • Clear out withered flowers
  • Remove diseased and broken parts of plants
Deadheading climbing roses
Removing wilted flowers encourages new growth [Photo: Robert Przybysz/ Shutterstock.com]

Watering is done only from below to minimise the risk of fungal infections on the leaves. Also, watering is not done in the blazing midday sun. After heavy watering or rain, loosen the soil around the roots. This prevents compaction of the soil and lets enough air get at the roots again.

Fertilising climbing roses

A queen must also be catered for royally. Like Marie-Antoinette, climbing roses have only the finest and in sufficient quantities. This is why there are special rose fertilisers available in stores, such as our Plantura Rose Food, which is tailored to the royal nutrient consumption. It is also possible to use another fertiliser. Cow manure, for example, would be a cost–effective alternative. Just make sure a natural fertiliser option ends up in your shopping basket. This has a longer slow-release effect in the soil and is also more environmentally friendly than the mineral alternatives.

Climbing roses are fertilised twice a year:

  • Beginning of April
  • End of June after flowering

The fertiliser is carefully worked into the loosened soil around the roots. For freshly planted roses, fertilising in April is not necessary. They are fertilised for the first time after the first flowering.

Plantura Rose Food
Plantura Rose Food

With a long-lasting effect, for healthy soil, child & pet friendly

Overwintering

In autumn, the climbing roses get fit for the winter. For hardy varieties like ‘Golden Gate’, light protection from drying out and frost is enough. In the process, soil is accumulated at the base of the plant. Half hardy varieties like ‘Rosanna’ need a little more care. For extra protection from sun and wind, wrap the more delicate plants with a 2–foot–high willow mat. If shoots still tend to grow over the cover, these are covered with burlap.

Tying climbing rose shoots together
Before winter, the shoots should be tied together and protected [Photo: Radovan1/ Shutterstock.com]

Pruning rambler roses: when and how

By pruning your plants, you encourage the formation of new flowers and beautiful branching growth. For this purpose, newly formed side shoots are cut back once a year to a length of 2 to 5 buds. The incision is made obliquely about 5 mm above an outward growing bud. The timing for pruning depends on whether you have chosen a single–flowering or multiple–flowering variety.

  • Spring: more frequently blooming climbing roses
  • Autumn: once blooming climbing roses (after flowering)
removing a damaged rose shoot
Damaged shoots should be removed [Photo: Radovan1/ Shutterstock.com]

For plants that bloom once, remove only shoots that have previously borne flowers. The rule here is: less is more. For more frequently flowering varieties, pruning should be done only when there is no longer a danger of frost. Also, 1 – 2 main shoots are removed per year. Remaining new shoots are pulled along the trellis and fastened. Regardless of the variety, you should regularly clean out withered flowers and remove diseased or damaged parts of the plant over the winter. Shoots of wild rose rootstock are removed, otherwise they will overgrow your beautiful, elegant rose.

Here, you can find out more about caring for climbing roses.

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